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The perfect tree

by Sandra Hovey

Soon, very soon, the search, the frantic hunt begins over hill and dale, Home Depot, meadows, nurseries, small corner lots, stores, tree farms, Middlesex County, and points beyond. Families are on the trail of that one “perfect” Christmas tree! As parents, we make many promises, none more exhausting to obtain that “Yes, Virginia, we will find just the right tree this year!” All the while remembering last year’s tilted, all-too-soon brown and sparse branches, we begin the anticipated weekend project and vow to do much better this holiday in selecting this year’s fire specimen.

Now, I married a Northern boy who grew up on a tree farm. Lots of trees, beautiful, perfect trees, spruce, balsam, Colorado blues; each year given away to one and all. When we married, moved to the city and began shopping for a tree, he was in shock for days prior to Christmas just knowing he paid for a tree, and oh! What he paid! Once the sticker shock wore off, he set about to wire the poor tree to the baseboard! That’s the way we do it up North! But I think he was still thinking of Grandma’s 12-foot-high Balsam fir that surely did need some anchoring. Our 4-foot pine hardly needed that kind of help. However, once we got beyond the wiring, we did manage to decorate some memorable trees.

And, isn’t that the answer to the “perfect” tree? By putting some time, energy, imagination, and TLC into decorating, every tree becomes the perfect tree. I used to tell my kids we’d purposefully look for the ugliest tree in the forest (lot), take it home and make it our own Christmas ugly duckling/tree. That usually worked; except for the year my teenage daughter beat the sex discrimination laws and actually was hired as the first female Christmas tree lot salesperson! (Until then it was thought that girls couldn’t lift or load the trees.) With new found importance, she systematically brought home several ugly ducklings for us to decorate and have in each bedroom. I think, too, by that time she had grown tired of my 1960s “in” tree—the silver branches, orate balls, revolving light masterpiece. Fortunately, this perfect tree phase lasted for only a year or so.

These days with all the gorgeous, handcrafted, return-to-country ornaments that are available, every tree becomes a wonder for all to see. While browsing through the Christmas trim shops, I am amazed and overwhelmed at the artificial trees and ornaments packages that sell for $1,000, $2,000 . . . and, they’ll even come to my home and set up and decorate for me! (I don’t even mention this to Northern boy.) Do for me what should be such a fun and family project? Am I missing something here?

Even with minor mishaps and disagreements such as, “Who hangs the lights this year? This thing won’t stand up straight in this (beep) new stand! Where’s the star stored? Uh, oh! Clancy ate the popcorn string again,” I’ll still do the decorating myself, thank you. And, we’ll continue to look earlier each year for that one lonesome evergreen that seems to look in need of a home.

But, after all this, perhaps I do know were the “perfect” Christmas tree is—it’s still standing, living and remaining in the woods, the perfect spot!

posted 12.18.2013

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