Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories No. 1: The Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree

Did you have a real tree or was it artificial? How big was the tree? Who decorated the tree?

I lived in the woods of Southeast Alaska and Northeast Washington for most of my childhood... yet we had an artificial tree for most of those years!

We must have had real trees when I was very little, but I never remember decorating them or seeing them set up. I do have vague memories of seeing a tree in our living room in Kake, Alaska and again in our mobile home in Klawock, Alaska; they would have been real. Sometime in the mid-1970s after my parents built their house about a mile outside of Klawock, they got a small artificial tree and decorated it with red and white velveteen-covered doves, roses and ribbons. Since we did not have electricity out on this farm, we did not have lights on the tree. It was a family joke that we lived in one of the largest forests in the nation, yet we had an artificial Christmas tree. It did make sense because most of the trees around our home were very tall, and it was wasteful to cut down small trees for Christmas that could have instead grown up to be good for lumber, firewood, or shade. I think we kids always helped decorate the tree.

The first year I were married (1987), we had a real Charlie Brown Christmas tree. My ex-husband worked for The Salvation Army Family Services department, and a bunch of Christmas trees had been donated to give to needy families. He brought the last one home on Christmas Eve after the department had closed for the holiday. That tree was so bad, no needy family had even wanted it! It stood about three feet tall, and there was no bad side to place against the wall...every side was the bad side! I only had a handful of decorations, but I did the best I could to fix it up! It had kind of been an impromptu thing, as my ex-husband really wasn't into celebrating Christmas at that time, and only brought it home after I had protested, "We have to have a tree!" The funny thing is that later he loved Christmas, and was always anxious for us to have the tree up! I usually do most of the setting up and decorations, although my daughter will help out every now and again. We got a five-foot artificial tree in 1988 and had that one for many years before it bit the dust. It was replaced by a slightly larger (six-foot) artificial fir tree that is just right for our tiny living room, yet still big enough to hold the steadily-growing collection of ornaments that have accumulated over 20 years!

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created in 2007 by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Visit Geneabloggers to participate and to read others' posts on these topics.


Linda Hughes Hiser said...

Thank you for sharing your memories Miriam. How many of us have had that one Charlie Brown Christmas's one we all remember with fondness.

Miriam Robbins said...

Thanks for stopping by, reading, and leaving your thoughts, Linda! Merry Christmas!

Diana Ritchie said...

I laughed at the Charlie Brown Christmas tree part - I could just HEAR my Mom saying to my Dad, "No, turn it more so the bad side is toward the wall" - every year!!

Lidian said...

I always really liked the Charlie Brown trees we used to get (before switching to the artificial tree because of cats)- they are so cute!

Greta Koehl said...

I love the "every side was bad" part. Also the irony of having an artificial tree in the midst of real trees.

Miriam Robbins said...

Thanks, ladies. I'm almost wistful for a real one...but as much time as it takes just to drag the artificial one out of the shed, set it up, and decorate, well...I probably wouldn't get a real one done until Valentine's Day. And then it would be quite dead!