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Holiday Special #2

The holidays always brings reruns of favorite movies and TV specials.  So, in the spirit of the holidays, I have decided to rerun some of my older holiday-themed posts on the remaining days up until Christmas.  Any footnotes are current.


Originally posted December 15, 2005 at LARGETONY Blog

You ever considered how picking out a Christmas tree has similarities to cruising for dick? There you are, checking out the ranks, on the hunt for that perfect specimen: a big, thick, sturdy one that you think just might hit the ceiling. Be careful how you handle it in your fists or your hands might get all sticky. You might even get the gunk on your clothes. It’s safer to use a glove. Next, you drag it home and pop a tight ring around it’s base. Then, next to a roaring fire you lay on your belly underneath it, and screw and screw and screw. You take a break, get it upright again, then screw and screw some more. Oh sure, it keeps you happy and satisfied for a while, but eventually the magic wears off and you toss it out and hunt for a different one next time. Even if it’s not a real one, you hide it away until you have use for it again.

Well, I went cruising for a tree tonight.  Even though Christmas is not a big splashy deal at my house (when there’s only two of you and one has lived almost nine decades, there’s not much call for an overblown holiday), the one thing I really do get into is the tree. It’s always been my thing.

When I was kid I was always the one to pick out the tree. It wasn’t like some family ritual to let the baby choose the tree. Please don’t imagine me as a bean-pole Cindy-Loo Who from “The Grinch.” It really made no difference to my father. His only interest and obligation to the tree was getting it standing. The pines and spruces didn’t hold much interest for my brother, either, until after Christmas when he would take it outside and see how fast he could get a still partially green tree to burn. (No matter what you got for Christmas, no toy can excite a redneck kid like a book of matches.) My mother focused on the making it pretty, so (with her help) the selection fell to me. By the time I had come to live with my grandparents, they were happy to let a teenager handle the effort.

Over the years, I have gotten trees just about every way you can, besides growing your own or stealing one. There were trees bought at tree lots, trees bought at grocery stores, trees bought at nurseries, trees cut in the woods (okay, that might count as stealing because I’m not sure we always knew if it was on someone’s property), and trees from tree farms. But the one thing I have never had is a tree from a box. Never had an artificial tree. I don’t think I ever will.1

I will admit that there are a lot of really beautiful fake trees out there. And a lot of people are switching to them because they are easier to put up and they don’t leave the trails of pine throughout the house. (Face it, after a few days in the house, a fresh cut tree is like having a long-haired cat that you decorated with tinsel and bells.) And as re-usable tree become more popular, the perishable kind gets more and more expensive. But I’ll paythe price, because fake Christmas trees also don’t leave the smells of pine throughout the house. And that is the best part of it for me.2

I really don’t get all that into the decorating part. I mean, I enjoy it, but I’m not all that good at it. You won’t ever see one of my trees in Martha Stewart’s magazine. But decorating it is all part of producing that potent woodsy sweet smell of pine. It may be just something I create in my mind, but I swear that once the lights start giving off heat, it makes the smell stronger. You don’t have a nose as big as mine and not become a smell-oriented person.

When I brought my big boy home tonight, Granny lit up. She enjoys Christmas as much as I do, and although I’m sure she has been seeing holiday images and stuff on TV the last several weeks, I think seeing the tree made it really register that Christmas is coming. She sat and watched me, giving me advice on where to remove excess branches without ruining the shape. When I was cleaning up, she took a little sprig from the cuttings and put it in a glass of water. She told me she wanted to have the smell in her room, so she put the glass on her night table.

We didn’t decorate tonight. That’s probably gonna come on the weekend when I have more time. Besides, when you have a tree that’s been sitting out in the cold, it needs a good day or so to warm up so that the branches relax. Too many times I have decorated a cold tree, only to have the ornaments dumped on the floor as the limbs softened. But before the weekend, I’m gonna go by the tree lot and look for another fir (I like short needle trees. We always had long needle trees as a kid, but it was like trying to decorate Velcro). Granny’s sprig in the glass inspired me to surprise her with her own little tree for her room.3Nothing big. Maybe three feet or so. And also like a dick, it doesn’t have to be a big one to be satisfying.

{ fin }

  1. Oh, how things have changed in 6 years. []
  2. The worst part is putting on and removing the lights, which started outweighing the smell a couple of years ago. []
  3. I’ve put a small live one in her room ever since. []
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  1. jdw jdw

    I love your reality. Also,when you pack what you have in your pants,most anything else is small. Merry Christmas. Thank you for starting to write regularly again. Dwight Williamson

  2. irisgirl irisgirl

    I just love this post. You have a wonderful way of creating such vivid images with a few, very well-chosen words.

    And it is very touching, without being sappy (sorry–couldn’t resist the puns!)

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