To say I have seen an innumerable array of Christmas trees in my life is probably a stretch. But I have seen my fair share. Some quite magnificent and some so homely that you would just fall I love with them. Like the underdog of a pageant, the homely one with all its needles askew, like too much mousse was used to get it to look good. I always root for that one. But of course the trees that we have brought into our house at Christmas time have all been perfect. Each one had a story to tell… Here are a few.
I am the tree picker in our family. Always have been and always will be. It is a right that has been handed down to the women of my family. My mom picked out the trees when I was growing up and I learned tree choosing from her. Not too big, not too small. Full but not too full. Straight, but if not straight enough, able to be fixed once it was in the house. You know, all the Christmas tree things that one needs to know to be able to bring a tree into your living room and then after Christmas pick pine needles out from the carpet clear through the next summer!
One year, way before tree permits and tree lots on every corner, our family trekked up into the Sierras as a family of five to get that perfect tree. There was the obligatory snow, hot chocolate and songs sung by small children, off key. Dad was in charge of the hand saw and mom was in all her glory of spotting that just right aromatic needled specimen. This high up in the mountains the trees are big, really big. They are not the three to eight footers that you might expect in most Nevada forests. So when she found the glorious tree it was of course the top of a HUGE tree. (Yes before tree topping was not allowed.) With three children looking expectantly up at him, the young dad begins his climb to get that tree for his family. Up he goes, and on the way there is mumbling and grumbling and words that are uttered under breath that comes out in foggy heaves. Children hooraying him on and the mom giggling somewhat triumphantly and telling the climber that the spot to cut just a few more branches up. Finally he gets up some 20-25 feet and sets up to begin the cut. Maybe just a few branches under where he was is where he should cut would be better mom reported. I can still see him there, up in the tree, if he could have I am sure he would have paid nearly anything to have had someone else go on the tree hunt. But he moved down the tree, cut and fell the tree. Then of course began the tree hauling back to the vehicle. It was not the Norman Rockwell picture of bringing in the tree from the forest. It was more like a band of wayward urchins that at the end of the trail back at the truck were tired and cranky and not so impressed with the whole tree cutting experience. To my parents horror that scenario was played out for a few more years until we moved to Eastern Nevada where the trees are cut off at ground level!
But moving forward to the trees in my married life. One of our first trees I picked out was within about ten miles of our house. Before even getting in the truck I stood in the living room and put my arms out as to measure the space where our tree would stand. I was ready. He had the chainsaw and I had that “Trina measurement.” I found the perfect tree. Full, straight, and I went up to it and put my arms out to measure, it was just right. I said cut and he said it was too big. I had many years of training and said it was perfect. He finally cut and we hauled off my tree of choice. Now I am not saying he was right, but imagine if you will the sound of a chain saw in your living room when the perfect tree needed to be shortened about a foot and a half to fit in the perfect spot. That was the year he had enough pine boughs to make a five foot wreath. I say I planned it that way. Maybe not the chainsaw in the living room part…
Yes we have had trees fall over just before a party. Trees that were the last on the lot. Trees that needed a phone book to get it level. Trees that were glorious on their own and trees that we made glorious with decorations from family decorations that go back 75 to 80 years.
Hope the Christmas trees in your life give you pause to remember and enjoy this Christmas time event.
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.