When the Christmas season rolls around, I never get tired of seeing the colorful decorations, especially the beautiful Christmas trees. Each Christmas tree is as unique and special as the families who decorate them. Every tree has a story of its own to tell and presents a display of the family’s personalities, interests and priorities.
Many families have a collection of treasured decorations that they use each year to adorn their tree. I find those collections fascinating. As I visit with friends and family members, I have discovered that many of those ornaments have special stories that are retold year after year.
Some families have trees with ornaments made by their children. Those decorations are often placed on the tree in a hodge-podge manner. Other families have trees with ornaments that are carefully coordinated and painstakingly placed. But each tree holds a special place in the hearts of the family that decorated it.
As a child, my siblings and I were always excited when it was finally time to bring out our beloved ornaments and decorate our tree. Many of the ornaments in that collection were wedding gifts given to Mom and Dad by our grandparents. Those ornaments adorned my parent’s first Christmas tree and continued to be placed on our family tree each year.
I still have many of those ornaments, but I never place them on my tree. I have them carefully preserved and protected in a special shadow box that I hang on the wall each year.
My family and I also have ornaments that we treasure. We have ornaments that we purchased in the first year of our marriage. We have one very special ornament that we always hang on the tree together. Some ornaments were purchased when our youngest was born, and they hold many memories. Our collection represents the happy times as well as the difficult times of our lives.
I would not part with them at any price.
For most of his childhood, my youngest has put up a tree in his room. He also has a large collection of nutcrackers that he puts on display. A nativity set that he has played throughout his childhood will be placed in front of the tree and he will have a small train circling his tree.
He has his own collection of ornaments, and he treasures them. As a small boy, his first move every Christmas morning was to carefully inspect his tree. After Santa placed our gifts around the tree and filled our stockings, he always made his way upstairs to place a new ornament on that little tree.
The excited little boy who once pressed his nose against the window on Christmas Eve to look for Santa and his reindeer is long gone. But the tradition continues. A new ornament somehow appears on his tree every Christmas Eve. He doesn’t sleep as soundly as he once did. Santa is finding it difficult to sneak in to his room with that ornament. Especially since our small dog also sleeps there.
As a child, we always had live trees. Each year my mother would purchase our tree from the small grocery store in town. Unfortunately, she always seemed to suffer with allergies during the Christmas season. She thought the live tree might be the cause of her miseries, so one year she bought a shiny aluminum tree.
We all hated that horrid thing.
Eventually she discovered that the tree was not the source of her problem and we were able to have a real tree again.
Nothing beats the fragrance of a fresh cut Christmas tree.
But real trees have their disadvantages. No matter how often you water them, they will dry out and can become a fire hazard. Trees with dry and brittle needles are no fun to work with when it is time to remove the decorations. They also create a mess that will plug up your vacuum sweeper.
My wife and I continued the tradition of a real tree for several years. It was a lot of fun to visit a nearby tree farm, select a tree, cut it down and bring it home. But as the trees became more expensive, and growing weary of the dry needle mess each year, we finally purchased an artificial tree.
At first I hated it, but it really doesn’t look that bad. Working as a family to assemble the tree and then decorate it has become a lot of fun.
But fake trees don’t have that wonderful fresh cut pine fragrance. I really did miss that, but now we have that covered. We have plug-in pine scented air fresheners, pine scented candles and even pine scented ornaments. Our tree looks and smells quite real.
We have used the same tree every year for the past 15 years. We bought it on clearance, and it has served us well. After we complete our decoration efforts, we plug in the lights and stand back to admire our work. Somehow it seems that each year our tree is even prettier than the year before.
But just like a real tree, artificial trees will eventually start dropping needles and begin to look shabby. Our tree still has a few good years left, but it is showing its age and it’s time for us to start thinking about a replacement.
Over the past 20 years, artificial tree technology has come a long way. The first artificial trees looked like giant scrub brushes. They were actually made in a process that was quite similar to those brushes. They were very poor substitutes for the real thing.
But today many companies are making trees you almost have to touch to know they aren’t real. One company, well known for their artificial trees, produces a tree that even feels real. I am sure that they will eventually find a way to make it smell real.
But that level of realism comes at a high cost. But after Christmas, many of those trees will go on clearance and can be purchased very reasonable price. We hope to purchase one for next year.
But real or artificial, realistic or not, all Christmas trees are special and they are all beautiful in their own way. While there are many gorgeously decorated trees out there, the most beautiful tree of all will be the one in your own home.
As the song says, the prettiest sight you’ll see is the holly that will be on your own front door.
CourierTraveler reporter John Shelman can be contacted at (620) 442-4200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.