O Christmas tree

Some prefer artificial Christmas trees—their prerogative. Manufacturers have come a long way when it comes to imitation trees. I catch myself touching the needles to determine whether or not they are real.

And, of course, there are conveniences to consider. One need only shop for an artificial tree every 6-8 years.

Searching for a factory-made tree does not require a thick coat, boots, hat, and gloves. Hand warmers, a sharp-toothed saw, measuring tape, and a wool army blanket aren’t necessary.

A store-bought tree eliminates the annual trudge up and down hillsides through deep snow or thick mud. It never, as in ever, craves water. Nor does it shed needles on its way in and on its way out.

Convenient they may be, but I am a real tree kind of girl. Blame my dad.

As I recall my father’s Christmas trees, an old Christmas carol sings in my mind: “O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree. How lovely are thy branches….”

From the time only his thumb may have fit into my mitten, Dad took my brothers and me tree hunting.  I loved climbing hills and meandering through the woods.

Though I always hoped snowflakes would rain down on the day Dad chose, sleet and mud never held me back. I didn’t mind the weight of my heavy coat or the knit hat pulled down over my ears.

What I did mind was a warm Christmas tree-hunting day. It didn’t feel right—not then or now.

Dad’s mission was to find the prettiest shaped and tallest tree our house would hold. Meeting his lofty goals sometimes took a couple of hours of walking, measuring, and comparing.

Those were probably the most welcome hours of cold I ever experienced. Still are—with my brother Gerald.

Gerald embodies the same spirit of Christmas as the father for whom he was named. He, like me, enjoys the gifts of the hunt—the brisk outdoor air, the hike, and the challenge to find a storybook tree.

He may not love, love sprawling under not one, but two trees to labor with a handsaw. But he never complains.

After all, we both inherited Dad’s taste in Christmas trees. Gerald likes the eight to nine-foot, pencil types. I also look for ceiling-high trees—the kinds that taper from a narrow top to a full bottom.

It would be fun to see a video collage of the tree hunts with my brother. I’d like to revisit our treks in knee-deep snow and our slogs through sludge and mud.

It takes us a while, just like when we went with Dad. We walk from tree to tree, evaluating height and shape.

Will the top make a good home for the angel I’ve had since my first married Christmas? Is the trunk crooked or straight?

Note: Returning home with a crooked-trunked tree deteriorates marital bliss.

Gerald and I mark possible choices by placing gloves, scarves, hats, or sticks in their branches. Then, we return to them to reevaluate—when we can find them.

Note: A lost tree results in lost gloves, scarves, and hats.

Every year, I say to myself, “Self, I’ll take ribbon or string next year.” I remember, too—when we are on the hunt the following December.

Last week, Gerald, his wife Gloria, and I piled into his truck to find our trees. Gloria was lucky on two levels.

For one, we shopped small—seven-footers this year. For two, we found our trees in record time, which was kind of disappointing for me.

For those who prefer them, artificial trees are great. But I enjoy pulling on my boots, frost kissing my cheeks, inhaling the scent of fresh pine, and laughing with my brother.

I love the thrill of the hunt.

Commentary Everyday Life Friends & Family

VievesVine View All →

writer, blogger, columnist

2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I agree as I too prefer a real tree. However, with family members who have allergic reactions to pine, we’ve succumbed to a beautiful (for the most part) artificial Christmas tree.

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  2. You know don’t you, that your love for this adventure in the woods, is where you continue to search for the words to write that bless yourself and all who read what you share. I remember when I too liked the trees my father and brothers brought into our home. My husband and daughters carried on the tradition. A blessing

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