Returning to my Christmas roots

When I was a kid of five or six, I used to think that spruce and fir trees grew in neat tidy rows out front of Gerlovin’s hardware store

When I was a kid of five or six, I used to think that spruce and fir trees grew in neat tidy rows out front of Gerlovin’s hardware store and, of course, in the empty lot at the end of our street besides Maslowski’s grocery store.

Each year, come the Saturday morning before Christmas, my father, followed by my older brother, followed by my sister and me, all helping to pull our toboggan, would make our way to the forest at the end of our street to pick out the perfect Christmas tree.

Back then it never really occurred to me that it was odd for all the trees to be ‘pre-cut’ and stuck into rows of snow piles.

After we had gone up and down the rows enough times to be certain, my father would hand over $5 in cold, hard cash and we would proceed to haul our tree home beaming with a sense of pride and anticipation. Christmas is for kids.

Once home, the tree would be summarily placed on the back step to thaw out. My father always selected a tree that was a bit too tall for our living room, but, there was method to his madness.

Before taking the tree into the house, he would check for gaps and then drill holes in the trunk where he found gaps. He’d then cut branches from the bottom of the tree and jam them into the holes. A quick slice off the bottom and voila! Every year we would have the perfect tree.

Decorating the tree was a family affair. For me it was the best part of Christmas, well, that, the presents, Christmas dinner and being out of school for two weeks.

Many a Christmas has passed since those simpler days. I grew up, sort of.

I’ve grown old chronologically, but not in spirit.

So in the name of that spirit and the spirit of Christmas, this year I decided to put up a Christmas tree.

I suppose I should mention that I have collected Christmas tree ornaments for the past half century. With that being said, the other day I went out and purchased a Christmas three – a real tree, not one of those plastic jobs. Yes sir, a real tree – one of the $50 types – $50 in cold, hard cash.

I got it home only to discover a pretty significant gap towards the bottom. Luckily I happen to have a set of drill bits for my portable power drill. Two holes, a couple of branches jammed into the holes and voila! I had a perfect Christmas tree. The ornaments were packed away safe and sound just where I had put them 10 years ago. If the truth be told, I haven’t put up a tree for about 20 years .

This year, however, for some reason I was in the mood. Monday evening after supper, I hauled out the ornaments and the tree stand I bought at the thrift store.

It was just like the one we had when we were kids – or the way I remember it anyhow. I also dug out my CD of Sir Malcolm Sargent conducting the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra performing Ave Maria.

After mixing myself a nice tall glass of Kahlua and cream, I cranked up the stereo and began decorating the tree in earnest. Three Kahlua and creams later, with lights strung and the windows vibrating to the music of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the tree looked pretty darned good, if I don’t say so myself.

Each night this past week I have sat and admired my tree.

I am glad that I took the time to put it up. Christmas may not be the same as it was when I was kid, but it still has a certain magic to it – so does Kahlua and cream and Sir Malcolm Sargent conducting the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.


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