Monday, December 13, 2010

Oh, Yes We Need a Little Christmas (tree!)

When I was little, we had an ancient electrified tree stand that had three large lightbulbs (yellow, red and green) that pointed upwards under the tree.  I used to crawl under the tree and read my Christmas books by the colored lights on the tree and the stand. It was always very magical. We usually bought a standard chopped down tree somewhere, however, one year my Dad decided he wanted to get a living tree and then plant it in the yard. So, he dug a hole before the ground froze and covered it up till it was time to plant the tree after Christmas. Unfortunately, the freezing northern New Jersey winter wasn't a suitable climate and the tree didn't make it.

In my twenties, I was living in Boston and for a while I lived in the North End, the historically Italian section of the city (I'm of Irish/English descent, but they let me in anyway!) That was before the Central Artery was taken down and the elevated highway bisected the city, cutting off the No. End and waterfront from downtown.  I didn't have a car and used to buy my Christmas tree at the pop-up tree lot down the street, under the overpass. I'd then drag it up the street behind me and then up the stairs in my building. It's amazing there were any needles left after all that. I lived alone and as any single person will attest - it's very difficult to get a tree into a tree stand solo. But I managed.

In my thirties, I lived for a few years up in Newburyport, MA which is a beautiful seacoast city just south of the New Hampshire border.  I didn't actually get a Christmas tree some years. Sometimes it was because I was too busy and one year it rained every weekend and I didn't want to stuff a wet tree in my small Saturn to get it home. So I made due with a few big wreaths that I decorated with my growing collection of ornaments. When I moved into my first condo that had a beautiful fireplaced living room, I really wanted to make a big deal of Christmas. I had a convertible by that point and would drive my tree home in the backseat with the top down - which must have been quite a sight.

In my current condo, I have a sloped ceiling which is sixteen feet at its peak.  For a few years, I had a friend who would pick up a tree for me and put it up. One year, he showed up with a ten footer to take advantage of the space. It was huge and actually blocked out the sun and required furniture to be moved around. We also had to buy more lights, a sturdier tree stand and he needed a ladder to do the lights and put the topper on. Luckily, he also took the tree away for me after the holiday. My town is on the ocean and people bring their Christmas trees over to the beach to be used to prevent erosion over the winter.

Generally speaking, however, I prefer a smaller, more manageable tree and some years I just do big decorated wreaths.  Every year is a little bit different, which I kind of like. One thing is that I refuse to let it drive me crazy. I know if I had kids I'd be more consistent.

This ornament is non-negotiable, it will always been on my Christmas tree. It was made by my Grandmother near the end of her life when she was in a nursing home. She gave it to my mother who always put it on her tree in a prominent location and when she decided she was done with dealing with Christmas trees, I've taken over the tradition.

However, for all that, I do love a pretty tree and I love to reminisce over my collection of ornaments. My two best girlfriends and I give each other ornaments every year and I have many of my mother's ornaments when she decided she was done decorating Christmas tree.  I like to change up my decorating each year, but I still want to use some or all of my ornaments.

This year, I was offered a tree from the folks at Green Valley Christmas Trees, a mail order Christmas Tree company. After dragging trees through streets, in the backseat of a convertible or forgoing altogether - a tree delivered right to my doorstep seemed like a pretty neat idea. Plus, they say they cut them down the same day as shipping so they arrive fresher than the average pre-cut tree. I ordered a modest 4.5' tree and it was on my door step 3 days later. The box seemed quite small and yet when unpacked, it yielded a tree that just about 4.5' and has a beautiful shape.

I discovered last year that the best tree stand for me is this gold planter that I had hanging around. It's heavy and water tight and because it's deep with a smaller mouth opening, the tree just sits in it nicely, with no need to screw anything in.  Plus, I can fill with a lot of water.  And I think it's pretty!

This year, I decided to go with a predominantly gold theme to my tree and used all my gold ornaments, with some gold trimmed burlap ribbon, gold beads and a big gold star. A few touches of red and white round it out.

At this point, I've had the tree for a little over a week and it's still fresh and smells great. I understand that the concept of mail order Christmas trees is really catching on. I did give some thought about the efficiency of this system, however, the reality, most people purchase trees that are pre-cut and those trees were shipped in from tree farms in other locations, so it's not much different.

Green Valley Christmas Trees offers free shipping on their trees and wreaths. The trees are pricier than their tree-lot compatriots, but there is always a premium to pay for direct delivery and freshness. I wanted to thank Green Valley for offering me a tree to review. All opinions are my own and are not in exchange for free goods or services.

How do you get your tree home?

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Teresa at Splendid Sass said...

Thank you for sharing, Linda. Lovely tree.

Gina said...

Dear Linda, How nice of you to take the time and share your Christmas stories with us. Loved every word of it and also love your ornaments.
I look forward to decorating our old fahioned tree. So many ornaments with so many wonderful stories to tell. It is almost like reliving my life every time I pull another ornament out of the boxes.

We throw our Christmas tree (after a picnic in the forest with friends) in the back of the old Dodge pickup truck. We can purchase tree cutting permits from the Forest Service for $10 a tree. And the forest is only a few miles from our house.

Merry Christmas dear Linda. Gina

Boxwood Terrace said...

Hi Linda - Your tree is lovely and so is the stand you've used! I've been there too with buying smaller sized trees, wrestling them into the car, house, stand, etc. by myself. I posted about the lack of tall trees at the farm I go to every year, but there are benefits to a smaller tree and they are equally as pretty when decorated.

Karena said...

Linda I adore your tree and the decor which includes so many special memories!
Love the star tree topper.

Thank you again for so much encouragement!
Art by Karena

Concrete Jungle said...

Loved the tree rememberances! Have a merry merry day!

vicki archer said...

This sounds pretty perfect Linda... home delivery is the ultimate service in my mind....especially at this time of year...xv

Kate Dickerson said...

So pretty - and traditional as well, which is how I love Christmas trees.

My favorite ornament is your grandmother's. Isn't that what decorating the tree is all about? Those wonderful memories when different ornaments come out of the box. It's as if your grandmother is with you in sprit every year!

Merry merry Christmas, Linda!

Acanthus and Acorn said...

I love seeing other people's trees and hearing about their traditions...thanks for sharing your yours!

Ann at Rose et Lis and PlumSiena said...

Reading your descriptions made me smile in recognition. Growing up, we could never have a large tree as our home barely fit all of the kids (very large family), much less a large tree. But, we loved it just the same.

Ease of Christmas tree purchasing is one big reason I still have a minivan. It gets shared a lot in the month of December!


Greet said...

So nice to hear of all the different trees during all these periods in your life!
Oh I loved that decoration piece of your grandmother! I haven't anything of my grandmother's decoration and although I know she really had beautiful cute things!I wonder...where are they???
Linda my tree is a big tree almost from floor to top! And every year I buy some new decoration to change some of the old pieces. But there are a few that I will never change!
I hope you will have a gorgeous Holiday period and I wish you a Merry Christmas by now, in case I couldn't make it to visit you before Christmas!
A BIG hug,

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