Wednesday, December 9, 2009

(Belated) Advent Calendar 1 Dec: Christmas Tree

Did you have a real tree or was it artificial? How big was the tree? Who decorated the tree? What types of Christmas trees did your ancestors have?

I don't think we ever had an artificial tree growing up and I think my mother would have found it totally unacceptable.  We HAD to have a real tree because to my mother the smell was the most important thing, it could be a scraggily little bush but if it had that wonderful pine smell it was okay in my mother's book.  My criteria of a good tree was always one that was big, really, really big, and anything under five foot was unacceptable   My father just wanted the lights to look good on the tree so his criteria was that the tree be fairly full.  When I was little we'd always go to a farm and cut our own tree, usually a Monterey or Scotch Pine.  My parents quickly grew disenchanted with the whole idea of cutting down a tree so for the last ten years or more they always get a pre-cut tree, usually a Noble Fir.  Getting the tree is half the fun because every year we all go to Silveyville in Solano Co.  Free popcorn, cider and coffee are just a few of the perks, there are also sleight rides and a neat gift store (if you are ever there, they make the best red onion jelly on the planet) and you can even bring your dog!  This was the first year that my mother thought of getting an artificial tree but the thought of Silveyville was too much so we went.  I would only get a tree if I didn't spend Christmas with my parents and I think it would be an artificial one (which I would spritz with Pine Sol).

Once we got the tree, usually about two weeks before Christmas, my mother is usually the one who decorates the tree only because no one else wants to.  My father always puts the lights on it and then we leave the tree bare with just lights for a couple days, sometimes a week, before ornaments are added.  As much as I like ornaments, I think I like the tree with just lights on it just as much. Ornaments and stockings are kept in an old trunk in my parents hall closet and getting that thing out is always a nightmare that we put off.  Then the trunk is put in the middle of the living for people to trip over until they are so sick of it being in the way that they trim the tree and put the trunk away (usually my mother gets fed up with the trunk first so she is the one who decorates the tree).

I don't really know what types of trees my ancestors had.  My great-grandmother always got a real tree and it seemed massive to me when I was little but thinking back on it, the ceiling in her living room isn't more than eight foot and there was always a star or angel topper so the tree couldn't have been more than seven foot.  My grandmother has an artificial tree that she always puts out.  It is tiny and scrawny and has been on its last leg for as long as I can remember but we all love that ugly thing so it hangs around.  I think my mother always had a real tree growing up so the artificial one my grandmother has probably came about once she lived alone in the late 1980s.  I have no idea what kind of a tree my father or paternal ancestors had in Michigan but since my dad ate a lot of SPAM and "economy meals" growing up I doubt his mother had the money for a real tree every year.

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