When I tell anyone that my current Christmas trees are made of crab-pots, they look at me with a blank stare and say, “Huh?”
The last time Rodney and I were on Hatteras Island together we discovered these magic trees. We walked into the Maritime Museum on the south end of the island…and there, glittering beautifully was this tree.
As so often happened after fifty-eight years our minds went into sync. We’d always believed that a live green tree was the only Christmas tree possible. However, we knew that when we moved to a retirement apartment that wouldn’t be an option. “This is what we will want,” we said in almost the same breath.
Christmas trees have always been a special part of the holiday season for me. When my sister and I were small we had a very set routine for the tree.
I don’t remember going to a tree lot and choosing the prettiest one we could find, bringing it home and setting it up in the northeast corner of the living room. I remember the rest though.
Mother strung the lights, carefully. Pam and I made sure our four favorite bulbs were in front. Remember, this is long before today’s popular tiny lights. The boy and girl light bulbs looked slightly like Hansel and Gretel…with bright, old-fashioned clothes. They were the most special. I still have those though long ago they quit showing any light.
The other two we loved were a Santa Claus, complete with round belly, red suit with a black belt and flowing (if glass can be said to flow) beard. A red star bulb was more on the semi-special list. But the happening on that tree after we’d put on the ornaments were the icicles. No throwing on a bunch at a time…we carefully formed a silvery gleaming sheen over the whole tree.
Years later, in Chicago, when our kids were still young, the tree happening came in the choosing and purchasing act.
The five of us bundled up with hats, scarves, gloves, the works. Even if we saw a tree we wanted…always the biggest we could find…we knew that time standing around the roaring fire in an old metal trash can was a necessary ritual. Our friend, Henry turned his garden shop into the best Christmas tree lot ever.
Smelling the sweet pine scent, studying the rows of trees, hollering at each other, “here’s a good one” or “do we want a pine or spruce this year?”… all that and the roaring fire kicked off the season.
Many years later…with our kids nearly grown up …Rodney invents the most elaborate tree stand with a rope to pull it out in case of fire. We tried not to remind him that he also fastened it to the wall so it wouldn’t fall over.
But the magic of the tree in those years reflected in our large picture window at the other end of the living room. We had two trees for the price of one. The evergreen complete with as many ornaments as we could hang on it…always the unbreakable ones at the bottom in anticipation of small visitors.
Now…I live alone and I am in the last round of Christmas trees…the most magical of all. I have two wide windows facing the drive-in courtyard at Claridge Court. Just putting those two white, with lights on them, up exudes magic. But seeing them from anywhere in the courtyard at Claridge Court reminds me of all the years of Christmas trees that have covered my life.