Today’s the day! Yes the day the Christmas Tree goes up in all its radiant glory. Of course this means, that as I sit down to write this, my fingers are sticking together. For, you see, in this house, nothing but live trees are allowed. If fact for a few years, the trees were really live, not cut, with the balled root settled neatly in a tub of water. The front yard sports a white pine that once was a tree back in the late 70s. That tree now towers some 50 to 60 feet over the pine straw laden grass. It has gotten too big for me to string lights on any more. But it is still out there decorated with memories of Christmas past.
Left: Typical 1950s Christmas Tree For those of you who are shaking your heads, thinking that it is awful late to be putting up a tree, I say that we follow the old time Christmas tradition by keeping our tree up until at least the 12th day of Christmas. No, the Twelfth Day of Christmas is not December 25, that is the First Day. The Twelve Days covers the period between Christmas Day and Epiphany which happens on January 6th. So don’t you worry if you walk past my house on January 3rd and you still see my lights burning brightly; they will not still be up on the Fourth of July! Heck, even the folks who run the annual Christmas Tree recycling program recognize this by keeping the drop spots open until after Epiphany.
I feel the same way about Holiday Songs and Christmas Carols. All too often a local radio station flips to an all Christmas format the day after thanksgiving. That is enough to make the turkey gravy leftover in my refrigerator curdle, or whatever turkey gravy does to register discontent. I always say mix the Christmas songs in a little at a time. Heck, the great Advent songs like “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel” get overrun by Santa on his way for an unfortunate meeting with Grandma in the front yard these days. You all know how that turned out; not too good for Grandma! And, while you are at it, don’t go cold turkey with and cut off the Christmas tunes at noon on Christmas day, drag it out a little, say as far as New Year’s Eve. I’m getting too old to take corners at the speed they come these days.
Left: The White Pine in the front yard that started off as a Christmas Tree in the 70s. So, the tree is up now and lit. The next step is the hanging of the ornaments. The tree is not as big as the glorious Frazier Furs of my youth. It is not laden with ornaments and tinsel like in the 50s. When tinsel went away because it was made from lead, then the plastic ones were dangerous for pets, we went to spaying artificial snow and wrapping the bulbs in spun glass. That too was tossed aside because of dangerous materials.
That left us with electric lights, glass bulbs and swaths of ribbon, and I’m OK with that! The Christmas tree of today is more natural and shapely than those of old that looked like glittery cones. I even have come to favor trees with slight defects. They have character and offer decorative opportunities than perfect trees. The table top Virginia Pine tree in the living room now has a bow in the trunk that will make room for some of my favorite ornaments. There is a wonderful fragrance in the living room that reminds me of the pine forests back home mixed with the incense that accompanied Midnight Mass. I’ll be sitting in my easy chair rolling through all the Christmases in the past in my mind; there was that shiny new bicycle, before that, there was the cowboy outfit. Yes, my brothers and sister are gathered round smiling and laughing as we unwrap all the presents. Soon, we’ll be dressed up and headed out to church. You know, that is truly worth a little pine sap on my hands. Oh MY!