Wednesday, December 01, 2010


You know that part of the movie A Christmas Story where
the family goes out to buy the tree and the parents have a little
argument over it? Well, I laugh every time I see it because
like so much in that film it echoes my childhood.

Every Christmas when I was younger either we’d go shopping
for a tree or Dad would buy one on his way home from work.
Now as regular readers of this blog know by now, my dad was
from Maine. But even more than that, he had experience in trees.
He’d helped his father cutting down trees, and he’d worked for a
landscaper in the Boston area when he’d first come home from
the war. Mom would remind Dad of his experience every year
when the tree was fixed into the tree stand, the rope cut from
the branches and the inevitable big empty space was discovered.
Usually the problem was solved by rotating the tree so the empty
spot was in the back facing the wall. The lights were strung(and
here we differed from the film. We never blew out the fuses.),
then the garlands, the ornaments, and the icicles. Finally the
angel went up on top of the tree and we were all set. With
judicious watering the tree would last us until around “Little
Christmas” at which time it would be undecorated and deposited
curbside to await the dump truck.

Of course our tree paled in comparison to the giant my Mom’s
Uncle Tommy and Aunt Francis had in their home down in
Milton. It was so big they cut the top off and the branches didn’t
taper at the top. They were all the same size: large. I could
never believe they'd gotten that big a tree into the house in the
first place!

Then the first artificial Christmas trees hit the market and Mom
began vowing she was going to get one as she vacuumed up pine
needles from the rug. Eventually we did but that provided us
with new challenges, such as assembling the tree.

As we all grew older the prospect of trying to get the tree
together became less enchanting and so it too was replaced, this
time by a small ceramic musical tree that was lit from within by
a light bulb. I used that tree myself for several years after Mom
died although I felt no great urge to wind it up for the music. It
lasted until a few years back when I dropped it and the base
cracked. It sits now in a box in a shelf in my living room closet.

Its replacement is a small artificial tree that I bought at work with
my employee discount along with a garland. Last year some
friends sent me some snowmen ornaments for it. I haven’t put it
up yet but think I will this weekend. It fits on top of the tv.

And at some point over the holidays I’ll see that scene from A
Christmas Story again and grin.

2009 update: I bought a small string of battery powered lights
to add to my tree last week!

2010 update: I lost my Christmas stuff in my move last April so
I'll be picking it up another one at work soon.
Originally posted in 2007.


Elizabeth O'Neal said...

What you said about your aunt and uncle's tree (large, with the top cut off) made me think of that scene in Elf where they try to stand up the gigantic tree. Isn't it funny how we have so many memories of Christmas movies??

BTW Bill, how on earth did you LOSE your Christmas stuff? What a terrible loss for you!

Kristin said...

we left half our decorations during our last move. But the tree still has plenty of decorations.

Donna Jane said...

Bill, don't feel bad about your loss. On a move of about 10 miles we lost all of our Norman Rockwell ornaments and when she moved from Kentucky to Texas my daughter lost the stockings among other Christmas decorations. She found them 2 years later in an unmarked box!

Colleen said...

I remmeber grandma having a small tree with the color wheel shining on it as it rotated around the various colors!

Bill West said...

Elizabeth. it was only one snall box with the "tabletop" tree and the decorations. My only regret is losing the decorations which some friends had sent me. But the move
was so sudden and quick that I threw the box out by mistake.

Greta Koehl said...

My parents lost a lot of our family Christmas ornaments in our many moves. I still miss those ornaments.