Daughter Lise wanted to know about Christmas trees I had as a child. I think we had a small cedar tree every year. I presume Dad brought it in the house, whether he cut it down on the farm or bought it, I don’t know. Mom must have decorated it by herself. As soon as brother Bob and I showed the tiniest interest, she handed the job over to us. I’m sure we enjoyed it much more than she did. They never had a Christmas tree after we grew up, being happy to enjoy those of others.
Our trees were on the small side, not impressive in any dimension. The lights were large bulbs that could have easily ignited a dry tree, so we didn’t leave them on for long. We had an average assortment of glass ornaments and aluminum roping. Tinsel, which we called icicles, gave the finishing touch that added glitter and a bit of movement as you walked by. I don’t remember our breaking any of the decorations, so we must have handled them with extreme care. I loved some flimsy cardboard houses with holes in the back for inserting tree lights. They were magical to me at the time.
Neighbor Tom (Bob’s age, a teen then) brought us the most unusual tree ever. He was out hunting on his family farm and spotted a perfect tree for us. He was far from tools to cut it down, so he shot the base a number of times with his gun. I think he apologized for the ragged appearance of the trunk, but we loved it and told the story ever after. I thank you again, Tom. That was a marvelous tree, brought to us with lots of love.
Back in the 50’s we put up our tree fairly early in December and always took it down before New Year’s Day. I think that was the standard Southern procedure. John was horrified, knowing a proper tree should remain at attention until Epiphany, January 6. He always lived on a last-minute schedule, so he went out for our first tree in 1964, two or three days before Christmas. We were living in a fourth-floor walk-up in Queens at the time. Only the most pitiful specimens were left. We had been married half a year, so it didn’t make a bit of difference, because we looked at it with eyes of love. I realized the kind of tree was vastly different from the bushy ones I had as a child. I never saw another fat Christmas tree again. I will hear you when you snicker at seeing a photo of our first tree.
John became a master decorator as the years went on. Below is the tree we had in 2019