I have been enjoying the posts for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, but didn’t intend to participate. I was talking to Pat about it, saying that my memories of recent events didn’t seem like real genealogy to me. Pat said, “You love reading old letters and diaries of your relatives. Don’t you think your great-great-grandkids might feel the same way?” Hmm…. yes. If enough generations pass it is possible these stories might not be greeted with a chorus of, “Oh no, not that one again.” So, here on Day 13 is my effort for Day 1–the Christmas Tree.
Being Jewish I came to the Christmas tree rather late in life. After we blended our lives, N and I decided to blend our traditions as well. His family had Christmas trees, so we would have one too. I realize that some readers see the Christmas tree as an element of their Christian faith and may be offended by our secular rendition. It is not my intention to offend anyone; I merely want to tell our family story.
N grew up in the Pacific Northwest on a large piece of wooded land. Every Christmas he went out and hacked down some scrawny evergreen, brought it into the house, his family decorated it and celebrated. It was simple, everyone was happy. I really should have made note of the simple and happy part, but no, if I was going to do this I was going to throw myself into it.
So we got a living Christmas tree. Why should we go out and murder some poor little tree when we could have a living thing to be cherished forever? The fact that we lived in a tiny four room World War II surplus apartment did not deter me. We went to a nursery and picked out a small pine with an enormous root ball wrapped in burlap. Somehow we carted the tree home. Then we found a metal tub large enough to hold the tree. N mentioned many times, mostly when he was trying to move the surprisingly heavy and awkward tree into the house, that bringing a tree into the warm house and then taking it out and planting it meant certain death for the tree. In it came and was deposited in its tub filled with water.
The tree people had suggested that we keep the house as cool as possible while we had the tree inside; no problem, we couldn’t afford to heat the place anyway. We decorated the little guy and he looked great. There was some grumbling about it being colder inside than it was outside, but we were nurturing a living thing.
Perhaps we should have examined that old tub more closely. The tub leaked. When we woke up in the morning many gallons of water were soaked into our living room rug and through to what passed for flooring. I have blocked from my memory removing the tree and rug and trying to dry the flooring with a hair drier. N seems to remember these bits quite well.
So you are no doubt thinking, the little tree went to live outside. Not yet. I am stubborn, it wasn’t Christmas yet and that tree was coming inside. The tub was fixed and the tree came back. We celebrated a happy Christmas with our pet tree and kept it until New Years Day
Then it was time to plant. Here is a useful piece of information for those of you who live in southwestern Ohio and might be planning on a living tree. Start planning in July. To plant a tree you need a large hole. To dig a whole in southwest Ohio in December you need dynamite. You also need a place to dig the hole. We lived in an apartment. Eventually we were able to prevail upon some friends who owned a house. I don’t remember getting the tree over to their house; N says he remembers this part quite well.
We did dig the hole; there were explosives involved. Some people in our family (N) thought this was the fun part. Other people in our family (me) kept counting everyone’s fingers. Finally our little tree had a home.
I would go to visit my tree from time to time that winter rejoicing in its lovely green branches. April came at last to southern Ohio and the world turned green. Most of the world turned green that is. One little part of the world turned brown. My poor little tree had been through too much. We cut him down and returned his remains to the earth from whence he came.
Now we go to the lovely Broken Arrow Tree Farm here in Connecticut every year and cut a lovely white pine. (I have no connection to these people; they really do have beautiful, well cared for trees.) I no longer have a problem with tree murder. The cutting, schlepping, tying to the roof of the car process usually elicits some grumbling, but in general, this is a fun family activity. The tree is decorated and people are happy.
I did mention to N recently that we do live on three acres of land now. There are lots of places for a living tree. He threw a string of lights on a yew in the front yard and said, “Look a living tree.”
Wishing you all :
A belated Happy Chanukah
A Merry Christmas
A happy Kwanzaa
A delightful Epiphany or Three Kings Day
A belated good wishes on Eid-al-Adha
And all of my best wishes for the holidays I’ve forgotten or know nothing about.
I truly wish each and every one of you all the joys of the season. May your lives be filled with peace and joy and memories.