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O Christmas Tree

We finally got our Christmas tree up this week, and it got me to thinking about my Christmas tree memories. I have lots of time for thinking these days as it does not require too much mental capacity to sing songs about poop (such as the Simon and Garfunkel classic "Feelin' Poopy.") Now, just imagine some trippy music and a gentle camera fade as we move on to Beth's Christmas Tree Memories...

Growing up, my younger brother had a "Baby's First Christmas" ornament from the year he was born. I did not have one. I asked my mother (repeatedly) why this was and got a series of bald-faced lies as excuses, such as they did not make such ornaments the year I was born. Finally in desperation, my mother made me a Baby's First Christmas ornament. Touching, yes? Not so much. You know those ornaments that are just plastic balls wrapped in red string? She took one of those and a sharpie and wrote "Baby's First Christmas 1974" on it. Mom isn't exactly crafty. The lack of a Baby's First Christmas ornament was a source of great sorrow for me and emotionally damaged me for life and I am not even kidding about that. Then yesterday, as I was out with Mia buying her a Baby's First Christmas ornament, I had a Brilliant Idea! I would get on Ebay and buy myself my very own Baby's First Christmas 1974 ornament and thereby heal 31 years of psychic pain. Surely, I thought, I would find one on Ebay. You can find anything on Ebay. Not so much, and therefore I am still suffering.

Moving on, when I was eight or nine I insisted that my parents buy the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. I think the tree was a little dry to start with, and by the day after Christmas when we took it down, there were far more needles piled on the carpet than were still on the tree. One night, my best friend spent the night and we slept on the pull out couch in the same room as the Christmas tree. We got very little sleep, however, as we were too busy amusing the heck out of ourselves by blowing gently in the direction of the tree and listening to hundreds of needles fall to the ground each time we did it. Sounds pretty lame now, but trust me it was great fun.

And finally, round about 1997 or 1998 (I can date it because I remember we were in our crappy old apartment) Chris and I were putting up our tree. We had one of those metal stands with the legs that you jam into slots on the bowl, and which apparently was designed for a tree somewhat smaller and considerably less crooked than the tree we had selected. We could not get that tree to stand up for love or money. At some point, we hit upon the clever idea of tying a rope around the trunk and tying the other end to one of the legs of the stand as some sort of counter-balance. Yeah, it didn't work. We finally admitted that we needed a new tree stand (which I was grumpy about, we were pretty poor at this point) and I headed out to the hardware store to get one. I will never forget the scene when I returned. Chris was sitting on the floor next to the tree with his back against the wall and clinging desperately to the rope that was preventing the tree from toppling over. Maybe you had to be there, but trust me, it was hilarious.

What about you guys? Any good/bad/weird Christmas tree memories?

Comments (25)

Christmas wasn't usually a happy time in our household. My sister's birthday is Dec. 12, which made the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas even more frantic. My dad was a high school wrestling coach, which meant that he wasn't around very much to help out. My mother was a perfectionist, bound and determined to make our lives a living hell if we didn't live up to her expectations. Oh yeah, and she was a martyr as well.

We weren't allowed to put the tree up until after my sister's birthday and by then my mom was usually pissed at us. I spent more than one of my teenage years cajoling my father into setting up the tree and putting on the lights so that I could decorate it by myself. Many tears would be shed.

But I have one great Christmas tree memory... when I was a little kid (maybe 4 or 5), I remember waking up on Christmas morning to find our tree looking magnificent and the presents covering half the living room floor. OK, so that was in our tiny ranch house, but I just remember how beautiful it looked and how excited I was. My grandmother was sitting in the armchair, waiting for us to wake up, and the whole house smelled like pancakes and cookies. That's my great Christmas memory.

Shh. Don't tell my mom I said this because she hates it when I do, but when we lived in El Salvador we were a bit on the poor side. Money for gifts was sometimes iffy and getting a tree was even worse. My mom though, god love her, she tried. One year she hung christmas tree lights in the shape of a tree on the wall. That was funny.

But the following year was the best. She got all fancy and decided to get a leaf-less tree. You know, one of those things that's just branches going every which way. So she got this thing from who knows where, gets it home and plants the thing. We hang lights on it and voila, christmas tree. The following day a friend of my brother's comes over and he's oohing and aahing over this strange little tree. My mom asks him if he likes it and he says yes. "I especially like all the ants. How are you getting them to stay on the tree?!?"

The damn thing was infested with those mean red fire ants. She had to throw the thing out and she was so annoyed, she didn't even bother to salvage the pot. hee. Good times.

I have lots of tree memories, because it was something I always did with my dad.

My favorite tree getting memory, though was from Christmas 2002. We lived in Connecticut and our friends took us to a tree farm to cut our own tree down. It had started snowing around Thanksgiving that year and hadn't stopped, so there was tons of snow of the ground as we tromped around trying to find the perfect tree. We finally both found our trees and laid down tarps so the boys could use their manly tools to cut down the trees, and we carted them home. It was such a New England moment, when I was used to going to the nursery by my parents' house to buy a tree.

That tree smelled better than any tree I've ever had. But it was the first time that I ever considered an artificial tree, because I got to thinking that this was the botanical equivalent to a mink coat - raised on a tree farm only to be cut down in its prime for my 4 weeks of holiday enjoyment. I've not caved yet to the artificial tree pressure, but it does make me sad to think about. I'm like Phoebe on Friends that way.

Growing up in Australia [Christmas in Summer!] to Jewish parents [Christmas, what's that?] I never had a Christmas tree as a kid. When I moved to Canada at age 25, my then boyfriend [now hubby] had a hard time with that.

The first year we were together, he snuck out one morning when I was sleeping and bought a tree and decorations. Like you and Chris, Beth, we were dirt poor at the time. Dave bought a really cheesy fake tree that could not have been more than 2 feet high. One string of lights was all it took to light up this baby. The decorations were cheap and taudry. Dave had the tree all set up by the time I awoke.

Well I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen! I also thought the romance of Dave's gesture so incredibly sweet. It was my first Christmas, and it was wonderful!

Fast forward to today... we now have a 4 month old [whom I dressed up just like Mia in a Santa suit] to 'help' with the tree. Our tree is a vision of beauty once again, not just because of the wonderful hand blown glass ornaments, but because it represents a tradition that is not just for two, but is now for us three. :)

Oh, and Dave's Aunty bought the baby the Baby's First Christmas ornament. Hopefully, that frees him up to be traumatised over something else one day... :-)

My dad has always been in charge of the lights on the tree at their house. He puts the lights on, that is his job. No one else should mess with the lights. Amen.

The last year that I lived in my parents house, my mom and I decided to do the Christmas tree lights ourselves. We were impatient to put the ornaments on, and Dad was busy doing something trivial like blowing 3 feet of snow off the driveway of elderly neighbors. Humbug.

When we got to the bottom row of branches, we couldn't plug in the last strand because we'd put the lights all backwards (the pointy end goes toward the outlet, did you know that?).

So, we took all the lights off and started over. But when we finished, we HAD DONE IT AGAIN. Honest-to-Pete, it took 4 complete tries before we figured out what we were doing wrong.

Surprisingly enough, we are no longer allowed to have anything to do with Dad's lights.

I loved how every year my mom would say to us..."You know, money is tight, so I just don't think there are going to be a lot of Christmas presents this year."

The three of us would say, "That's ok mom."

And every year, we still thought we were lucky and got great presents and it was great. And this sounds really sappy, but I'm PMS'g and am sad about other stuff today, so thanks for getting me to think about this one, Beth.

this is the most awful thing I can tell you.
my husband, not a violent man, I need to tell you, had an argument with me about putting up the tree and taking down the tree.
He lost his cool and broke all of my christmas ornaments. My first christmas for me, for the kids, our first year together, our special ones from grandma...all of them.
I've never forgiven him.
I refuse to put the tree up to this day.
He and kids do it and I smile in approval.
I can't think of a way he could make it up to me.

The house I grew up in had a 16 foot ceiling in the living room. One year a friend cut down a 14 foot tree and gave it to us as an early xmas present. We had an interesting time getting it indoors and we had to get the outside ladder just to decorate, but it was the most beautiful xmas tree ever. A bit of a disappointment the next year when my mom decided to buy a fake tree. Oh well...

On Christmas eve day my sis, brother and I would map out our strategy for that evening. The plan always was that we'd go to bed, stay awake and wait till we knew the parents were sleeping. Then we'd tiptoe down the steps, run through the living room where the main presents would be, get candy from the kitchen and run into the family room to check our stockings (I don't know why we bothered, we always got underwear, socks and toothbrushes. Oh JOY!) And then we'd go to bed. My sis and brother always fell asleep. So I'd be the only one to follow through with the plan. And we'd practice going up and down the steps so we knew which ones made creaking sounds as to not wake up the parents.

I can SO SEE my little man doing something like that someday.

Well, I don't remember this one, except through having heard the tale many times and seeing the pictures, but my parents were poor when I was little and my dad worked nights at a gas station to help make ends meet. I was a toddler and there was going to be no tree that year. However, there was a tree lot next to the gas station and late on Christmas Eve the owner of the lot gave my dad a tree that hadn't sold...it was painted BLUE. Well, Dad strapped that tree to the roof of the station wagon, brought it home, set it up and was sooo excited to see the kids' faces on Christmas morning. Well, when Christmas morning arrived, they woke to find me as blue as the tree. Turns out baby J was allergic to the paint and couldn't breathe. Christmas was spent in the ER...and they had a GREAT tree there! The hospital staff also gave me and my brother presents, which was something that wasn't going to happen at home.
Actually, turned out to be one of our better Christmases, as my dad suffered a serious head injury a couple of years later that caused some personality changes. Holidays always sucked after that, no matter what was under the tree.

One year my Mom used a tomato planter wire thingy hanging upside down as our Christmas Tree. I'd have to find a picture to truly depict how pathetic it was.

no tree this year cuz i have 2 cats and 4 kittens, yeah it would be knocked down for sure...but last year we did get one for our first "living together" xmas...same thing..the tree stand sucks!!! and are we the only ones who tried to put the leg things in the wrong way???

When I was in 5th grade, my dad decided we were going to cut our own tree. However, instead of going to a tree farm, we went into the woods near our house and cut a regular cedar tree. We hauled it back to the house and my mom said, no way. So my dad bought a tree and put the cedar tree in the backyard.

At this point, my brother, who's a year younger, and I decided to put the tree in his room. We didn't have a stand so we used these really old Christmas lights wrapped around his bunkbeds to hold the tree up. And, of course, with no stand there was no water for the tree.

For a year, you could walk through my brother's bedroom and step on needles. You have to love shag carpet.

I have a memory in the making, if that counts. My husband and I just got married this past weekend, and I'll never forget the rose wrapped Christmas trees in the church. Or the sparkling trees at the reception. Or the soft snow falling onto the evergreen pinetrees next to the river.

Maybe next year all that will truly count as a memory,... but I hope it stays as fresh in my mind as it is right now!

When I was a kid, my parents would drag me out every year on what seemed like the coldest day in December to choose and cut down a tree, then we would proceed to argue about which was the best tree for about three hours. Fond memories, even if what I remember most is how cold it was.

When I left for college, I never got a real tree. I had a Norfolk Island pine (which my parents got when I was a college freshman) and a small table-top tree for a number of years. I still have the Norfolk Island pine, which has grown from 12 inches to about 6 feet tall. It wasn't until I was out of college and married that I got my very own Real Tree. One day, in my third or fourth year of marriage, my ex brought home a very nice tree, and I had a grand time decorating it. It was the only one we ever got, because he whined so much about it that I never asked for one again.

This year, 7 or 8 years after I last had a real tree, I've got my own house, and I got my own Real Tree, a lovely long-needled something. I hope to put the small table-top tree away forever. And, of course, I went out on the coldest day in December to pick my tree out.

My favorite Christmas tree memory was the first year that my husband and I were married. We spent literally all day one Sunday driving up and down Aurora Ave. in Seattle (an interesting road, to say the least) looking for the perfect tree. We finally ended up buying a Charlie Brown tree from a used car lot.

The doggie, it's his very first Christmas and damn if we can't convince him that the tree is not there for his sole enjoyment....it is not a place to pee, not a giant smorgasbord of treats (he likes the sparkly ones, way too much) and lastly...the christmas tree water....he needs to understand that it's not made for little doggies to slurp...it's made to keep the tree alive...for at least a FEW days!

Christmas memories are all great for me... But I guess my favorite thing about Christmas has been learning to blend my and my husband's traditions in the past few years. The first year we lived together, it was kind of cute arguing about how one properly decorates a tree (do you stuff the light wires deep into the tree, lay them loosely on the ends of the branches, or do the dreaded wrap-around of each and every branch?). I thought it was cute that he wanted that ugly, scratchy fake blanket snow (that looks like batting) under the tree. And yet, every year, these cute disagreements turn into more bitter disagreeing, and it's not that we fight, but we're miserable, and both sacrificing so much that neither of us gets what we want. And we snap at each other, and kick the stand onto the trunk of the tree, and throw it through the front door, and spin and spin and spin ("Just 45 degrees to the right, no, my right, okay, now let's see, um, 90 degrees back to the left...") I truly think that I have been brought to tears every single year.

But once it's up, every single year, it's so fabulously beautiful, and it warms the whole house, and we wrap our arms around each other and admire our creation. And I forget that it was really awful, and I can't wait to do it again next year.

I love Christmas.

When my husband and I bought our house, the hubby was excited because it had a cathedral ceiling in the living room and he was already having wet dreams about the size of the christmas tree he was going to get the following year. (what is it with men and size??)

So Christmas comes and off he goes. Hours late he comes home with TREEZILLA! We had to call a few uncles, cousins and drag the neighbor girls boyfriend and his three friends over JUST TO GET THE TREE INTO THE HOUSE! It was 22 ft. tall.

Somehow, they managed to get that sucker in this monster of a tree stand my dad obviously stole from Rockefeller Center. They got the tree standing and the damn tree stand collapsed. Crushed under the weight of the 2 ton tree.

We decided we needed to trim it down a bit and ended up cutting about 4 ft off the bottom. We found a nice cast iron tree stand that could hold just about anything and after about 12 hours of struggeling got the tree standing. We had it tied to radiators, balconies, bolts in the floor and windows.

When Christmas was over our Street Department had to come over with chain saws to cut the tree apart in order to get it out of the house.

So this year I tell Mike, lets get a normal sized tree, nothing really huge, just nice and full. So what do I get? A 15ft tall, 10 ft wide tree! He says "you said full". It takes up almost my entire living room. The couch and love seat are on top of each other and the tv. Its ridiculous. Next year I'm getting the tree!

Growing up we always had a fake tree. Finally one year We convinced my mom to get a real one. While she was taking it down she noticed about a thousand black dots on her curtains that were behind the tree. They turned out to be spiders. The tree had a spider's nest and eggs in it. The warmth from the house caused the eggs to hatch.

She went back to the fake tree after that.

My parents have a very, very old house -- Translation: lots of teeny, tiny rooms.

Every year my mother would find a nice scrawny tree that wouldn't dwarf the room -- the problem is that these scrawny trees are pretty much bald on top (no needles, just a big stick). Her solution has been to chop off the bald top.... essentially changing it from a Christmas tree to a Christmas shrub -- go ahead, picture us as kids... having to crouch down next to the tree.

We always had a very sweet time decorating the tree, I seem to remember, the only argument being if we were going to use colored lights or white lights. My mom finally decided that we'd alternate years - but I'm white lights all the way!

And now I'm keeping my eyes peeled for a 1974 Baby's First Christmas ornament!

Okay -now you've done it. Both my boys have handmade craft show personalized "baby's first Christmas" ornaments and we have 2 or 3 w/all of our names on them. Gifts from friends who go to craft fairs. Well, guess what happened w/darling daughter's first Christmas - one friend had moved and the other - well - no one got us one. So this year, DD is 18 mos and still clueless in that regard - but her brothers (6 and 4) are horrified that there is no Carly's first Christmas and no ornament with all FIVE of our names on it. So - guess I will write the phone number down from the back and place a call tomorrow. I still don't have her Baby's first year scrap book done - boys' were done by the time they were 14 mos old. Guess that means there should not be a 4th! ;)

Thanks for guilting me into remembering to purchase a "baby's 1st Christmas" ornament for Nick (even though this year is his 2nd). I even bought a "baby's 2nd Christmas" ornament.

I grew up in BFE, Oklahoma, so every year we'd go out into the wilderness (think National Lampoon's Christmas minus the snow) and cut down an ugly tree. Before we got all uppity with an actual tree stand, we used a big bucket filled with sand. One year, we decorated the tree and it looked absolutely lovely. Presents were spilling out from under it and it truly was a wonder.

Then in the middle of the night, there was a horrible crash and we ran into the living room to see the dumb tree in the middle of the floor, on its side, spilling sand ALL OVER MY BEAUTIFUL PRESENTS. Tragic.

Also, I have a baby's first Christmas ornament -- one of those big satin balls, very pretty -- but I love Peter Rabbit and found a 1977 baby's first Christmas Peter Rabbit ornament on eBay. Which of course I had to have. Because I am teh lame. :)

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