Christmas tree stories from years gone by
We are fully into the holiday season, and most people are getting into the holiday spirit. But this year is very different, thanks to COVID-19.
My wife and I usually travel to visit my parents in Tennessee for Christmas. One year coming home, we visited the Jack Daniels Distillery and saw it all decorated for the holidays, including a unique Christmas tree.
But we won’t be making that trip this year. You see, my mom and dad are in their mid-90s, and I don’t want to risk exposing them to coronavirus. And in the spirit of full disclosure, they’ve told us to stay home until a vaccine is available.
Considering this year’s modified celebration and since I am a horticulturist, I’ve been thinking about Christmases past and the various Christmas trees we’ve enjoyed.
One of the earliest memories I have is of my Florida grandparents and their aluminum Christmas tree in the early to mid-1960s. This was one of the first artificial trees. Now, before you wonder how this may have influenced my early thoughts on a horticulture career, you need to know I thought this was a really, really cool tree.
I was fascinated because the tree changed colors, from silvery red to green and blue. These lights were not the fancy LEDs that we have in 2020, but an incandescent floodlight shining up on the tree through a rotating wheel that had different colored lenses.
Fast forward a few years, and I remember going to the Christmas tree lots with my dad to pick out real, precut trees. Balsam and Frazier firs gave the house that wonderful conifer smell.
Real trees give families the chance to bring nature inside, but they come with responsibilities. A fresh-cut Christmas tree can transpire a gallon or more of water, so keeping water in the tree stand is a must. I remember crawling under the tree as a child, being careful not to knock ornaments off as I filled the stand.
When my family moved to Tennessee after graduate school, I liked to promote buying live Christmas trees in containers that could be planted in the landscape after the holidays. This is a great way to remember Christmases past, as these trees grow in your landscape.
One year, I got behind and didn’t get our tree until the day before Christmas. I went to the Christmas tree farm, had this 9-foot tree dug up with a 250-pound root ball and brought it home. Now I knew better, but I brought the tree from outside where it was freezing to inside where it was 70 degrees
There was no way I was going to be able to keep it watered, and the needles started to fall like a blizzard the day after Christmas. This has never, ever happened again.
Since our daughters have been out on their own, my wife and I have come full circle with a simpler approach to having a Christmas tree. Please don’t think less of me, knowing my background, but we now have a fancy artificial Christmas tree. And get this: It is prelit with LED lights that have a 45-year life expectancy. We decorate with my wife's handiwork, which are crocheted and knotted lace Christmas ornaments.
It doesn’t matter what kind of Christmas tree you choose. They all can create happy memories.