Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Calendar Day 1 - The Christmas Tree

My family always had a real Christmas tree - usually a balsam fir tree. There is nothing better than a real balsam fir tree smell to make you get excited about Christmas! One year we tried a blue spruce tree instead, but it had a very pungent smell and was not very pleasant. It was typically a family event to walk out into the woodlot and pick out the Christmas tree. This expedition was often made while carrying sleigh bells and singing Christmas carols. My Dad's woodlot is full of mature trees, so it seems that we always cut down a 50-70 foot tall tree and lopped the top 6 feet off of it for our tree. The downside to this is that often several branches broke off as the tall tree came down to the ground and sometimes we had to drill holes in the trunk and wire new branches on to avoid having a gaping "hole" in our tree. Other times the trunk was so crooked that we had to wire the tree to the wall to keep it from tipping over. We always lugged back many of the extra boughs for making wreaths, swags, etc to decorate the doors and those of our neighbors. It always took a day or two to get the sticky pitch off of your hands and clothes after the Christmas tree expedition. We always got our tree the Sunday before Christmas and it usually came back down the Sunday after New Years. Before my Mom died in 1980 the whole family participated in decorating the tree, often while listening to Amahl and the Night Visitors on the record player. When we took the tree down, we always put it out back near the bird feeder for the birds to enjoy.

We have continued the tradition of making the annual trek out into the woodlot, although we now try to cut shorter trees. Sometimes I try to scout out some good trees prior too, or else it may take a long time to find one. When I lived out west while going to graduate school and during my first job, we considered getting an artificial tree, but I just never could get myself to buy one. I really enjoy the smell of a real balsam fir tree (the blue spruce I can do without!). Lately we have been considering the possibility of a live Christmas tree.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

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