The first Christmas tree that I remember cutting was probably when I was at least six or seven years old. It was sometime in the mid-fifties. My one-armed uncle, Joe Styers, and I tramped through the woods behind our ranch house at the corner of Shallowford Rd. and Styers Street in Lewisville, North Carolina until the perfect tree showed up.
I can remember thinking that we were never going to find the right tree. We finally found a cedar tree to suit Uncle Joe. Then we hacked it down and dragged it back to the house.
There have been a lot of trees since then, some of them very memorable. Once my son, Michael, and I headed off to a tree farm in Montgomery County just a few miles off of Interstate 81. We cut a nice tree, tied it on the car, hauled it home, and immediately put it up and got some water in the cup around it's base.
We only left the tree up about ten days, but when I went to take it outside, all the needles fell off of it. It looked like a Charlie Brown tree as I hurled it into the ravine behind the house. I was too embarassed to put it on the street for pickup.
Then there was the year that our grown children came home only to find the lady of the house adamant that she was having nothing to do with putting up a real tree. I was told "no tree" in no certain terms. Knowing that a clever plan can sometimes conquer all, my oldest daughter and I went tree shopping. We picked out one and paid for it. However, we left it at the tree lot.
Later in the day, my son and daughter borrowed my pickup truck to go get some coffee at Starbucks. My wife was surprised that they were taking a truck to get coffee, but she was too busy cooking to pay much attention. After they showed up a tree, it was too late to do anything. While she fumed a little, the tree got everyone in the Christmas spirit.
When we lived on our farm in Canada in seventies and early eighties, spruce and fir trees were close to being enemies to us. The cattle would eat hardwood seedlings that encroached on their pastures, but they would leave the spruce and fir seedlings alone. If you didn't bush hog the seedlings, your pasture would get smaller and smaller each year until there was nothing there but forest.
I used to think it was my duty to kill a spruce tree or two each day. Still finding the right tree with so many choices was always a challenge. I can remember our little Christmas tree in 1984. The snow was deep so I couldn't be as picky as normal since tree hunting on snow shoes is a time consuming effort.
I had just started working for Apple computer. I was spending most of my time living in a hotel six hours away from our farm which we were trying to sell. I got home just before Christmas and managed to get a small tree close to the road where I didn't have to wade far in the three feet of snow. I think it was the roundest tree we ever had. A few days after Christmas, we packed our cars and moved from the farm.
Then there was the time after we moved back to the states that we bought a tree and hauled it down to my mother's house in Mt. Airy, NC. We thought she needed some extra cheer, so we did the whole thing, including coming back to take it down.
This year, my wife and I had really hadn't talked very much about trees. After a tasty lunch at Burger in the Square on Brambleton Avenue in Roanoke, I made a right turn out of their parking lot and drove down Brambleton. I turned right because the traffic was heavy, and it was easier than making a left across the traffic back to 419.
We were just enjoying wandering around when I noticed the produce stand near Deb's Lemonade had lots of trees. We stopped and talked briefly to the attendant. It didn't take me long to find a perfect tree for $25 and head home with it. My wife seemed completely happy with it. I think the chance that our granddaughter will be here might have softened my wife up a little on having a tree in the house.
After getting home I hauled out my drill bit set and used four bits to make a small cone shaped hole to fit the metal cone in the base of our old cast iron tree stand. I like to revert to real hand tools for this effort. It just seems right. It only took a few minutes to get the tree up, and the base filled with water.
This evening I put the light on the tree, and my wife added the bows. We will work on it gradually over the next twenty four hours. It will be ready when our children get here on Christmas eve.
Our 2012 tree is much less exciting than our 1973 tree. It was our first tree together, and we didn't have a lot of money so we made most of our ornaments. We got the tree up and went to town for groceries. While we were gone, a couple of our cats pulled the tree down and got everything so tangled up that we started over with a new tree. I don't think we have used tinsel since then, but we still have a handful of those ornaments that we made that first year including my Christmoose which was a hand carved reindeer that looks more like a tiny moose than a reindeer.