This past weekend I went with my daughter, Robin, and her husband, JC, to pick their holiday tree. Now I’ve picked cherries. . . I’ve picked a ukulele . . . I’ve picked my 1970’s beehive hairdo. But picking a Christmas tree is the most demanding of all “pickings.”
Much of my life I enjoyed the amusement of selecting the annual Christmas tree from the woods. That is, except for those years when the artificial trees became popular and the only trip I made was to the basement with the hope that I’d still remember how to assemble a fake pine tree.
In recent years, my kids—who all live in St. Louis—have gone to buying flawless, tree-lot specimens, that look like clones of those found in a Dickens storybook or a Disney Christmas special. Looking back, I remember our shapeless trees with such fondness. They always had a flat side or a limb or two that sat askew. They should’ve been tagged: Some Shaping Required. But today we take what looks like a shrink-wrapped tree, give it a hearty shake, and it unfolds like a Monarch butterfly. Stick it in a stand, apply bulbs and baubles and you’re ready for the Yule season.
Ted Drewes Christmas Tree Lot
Christmas Trees Past
For me, buying a Christmas tree always brings on a bout of nostalgia. When I was a kid, my mother worked most evenings, so my father was the one who put up the tree and decorated it each year. He wasn’t overly particular about the placement of the baubles. When I assisted, his only requirement was that the ornaments fill any gaps in the branches. The “flinging of the icicles” marked the completion of the task. Rather than apply the silvery ribbons individually, he just tossed them on in clumps. I joined in the fun, but even at a young age, I had the suspicion we weren’t doing it right.
I also recall the tedium of keeping the lights burning on the tree througout the Christmas season. When a string of lights went out, we had to test every one on the string with a new bulb until we found which was defective. Then there was the year the tree kept listing forward and finally fell over. . . the year the pine needles clogged the ten-foot long hose of the wall vacuum cleaner and had to be reamed out. Unlike Chevy Chase, at least, we never electrocuted the cat.