My dad will never allow a fake Christmas tree into our house.
He is a tree-hugger (not the radical kind) who has maximized his half-acre of land by transforming it into a miniature nursery, specializing in small- to medium-sized shrubbery, as well as evergreens.
However, this is a man who also works long hours and rarely has time on weekends to deal with trivialities, such as deciding which Christmas tree will beat out its rivals for a spot in our living room on the 25th. And making the decision is the easiest part of the process, for my dad is not the kind of person to cut down a tree and then lay it out with the trash on January 1st. No, it will be brought into our home with a metaphorically beating heart and re-planted come spring thaw. Like I said, he is a tree-hugger (not the radical kind). He is a good man who simply loves trees, which is why the ornamental evergreen is the one tradition that can never be excluded from our festivities.
So when it comes to Christmas, some of my earliest memories are of digging. Like the boys from “Holes,” I was challenged to dig until I discovered who I was on the inside … Nah, just kidding. I was a kid, so it was fun to get dirty.
The problem is, winter ground is not easy for digging. So most of the time the tree that “won” was the tree which we had already dug around in months past. Why were so many trees pre-dug, you ask? My dad has a bad habit of perpetually moving trees from the front yard to the back, primarily for his own amusement and my anguish, I think. How the two of us used to go about moving these trees, with no large mechanical equipment whatsoever, is another story entirely. I will tell you that the process involved an 80s toboggan, about 12 feet of chain link and a couple of winches. I had an interesting childhood.
Back to my tale of Christmas digging. Because my dad was always occupied with work and basic home care, we usually ended up dealing with the hassle of Christmas decorating on the 24th. While that may seem like sacrilege, it was an adventure to my younger self, and I look back on those times with sappy reminiscence. The tree would be excavated, the dirt-encrusted root ball would be wrapped in burlap and the route from the front door to the living room would be emblazoned with a telling trail of pine needles — which would instantly be swept away by my mother following at our heels, armed to the teeth with her hand-held Oreck vacuum.
Not only was this the ultimate Christmas adventure for me, but because the tree could not be surrounded with presents until it was lit and decorated, two o’clock in the morning would often find us still watching movies and hanging ornaments.
These days, I don’t consider myself much of a Christmas junkie; I would sooner describe myself as a Scrooge of sorts. I consider decorating for the holidays to be pointless and, frankly, wasteful of both time and resources.
But maybe this is because, to me, Christmas just isn’t Christmas until the 24th. I really do love the holiday, and I love Christmas trees. And like my dad, I will never allow a fake tree into my living room.
I hope you take time to discover within yourself why this is such a magical time of year. No two answers will be the same. For me, it might be because of the introspection I have done while digging holes in December …
Nah, still kidding.
Merry Christmas, friends.