Wednesday, November 30, 2005

End of November

Thoughts for today at the end of November:

How is it already the end of November? How can it already be time to make cookies, address holiday cards, and begin Christmas shopping?

On this note, let me please address the topic of real Christmas trees versus fake Christmas trees. I grew up in a house where the only fake Christmas tree was the ceramic one on the dining room table. It was a tradition in my family. Everyone had their own on a "buffett" or mantle somewhere in the home. But when it came to presents under the Christmas Tree, that tree was always a real one.

I remember my Dad taking us to Hechingers to find the cheapest tree with the most branches. This seemed to take hours. Hours of looking at all the people taking away huge, full trees, while we were left to pick amongst the Charlie Browns. Luckily, we had alot of ornaments to fill the gaping holes, thanks to our neighbor who hand made us a new set each year.

I also remember when my Aunt Ida, Aunt Ann, and Nana would arrive early with stale popcorn and cranberries, and we'd string them up to drape on the branches. I couldn't resist eating the popcorn in between sticking myself with the needle, even though it tasted like a cardboard box.

When I was a teenager, we moved to the country. Hechinger's closed and we were forced to look elsewhere for our annual Christmas tree. Luckily, my father's tastes improved, and our house was soon adorned with the same substantial tree I remember envying years before. The ornaments each finally had their own branch. They were happy.

Now, I have my own tree. Unfortunetly, I live in a suburban apartment. That means, every year, I remove the tree box from the closet, pull out all the scratchy branches, and assemble them to form a tree shape. This also involves sculpting the branches to look like a natural pine tree. From the parking lot, our tree shines in the window like a beacon for our complex. But, I know it's not an authentic Christmas tree.

I realize some people love the convenience of their artificial tree. And, there is something charming about the sparkly white and pink trees you can buy for your kitchen. But, a living room with presents under the fiber optic tree will never feel as warm and inviting as a tree that smells like pine, even if you have to put two hundred ornaments on it to fill all the gaping holes.

So, Dad, if you read this.....maybe this year we could rescue one of those old scrawny trees. We were the only people who ever bought them anyway.

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