This is the second year that our home will not be graced by a traditional Christmas tree. It is a hard decision but when it is just the M and MK show at the townhome, and MK leaves Christmas Day for a month with the California crew, it makes no sense. We have settled for these two trees in these pictures.
While I was swimming my hour today, I started thinking about all the Christmas trees I have experienced over my life. My memory bank takes me back to ‘bubble lights’, metal tinsel, paper chains and popcorn strings. I have tender memories of my mom lighting this huge candle, putting on an LP record on the HIGH-FI and sitting on my couch while the fire crackled. If an eight year old can have a profound spiritual experience—I did.
My dad was a YMCA devotee. He was in the Y’s Men’s Club. which supported the local YMCA, which was a centering point in our family life. The Pueblo Y owns a magnificent summer camp in the Greenhorn mountains. Every year his club would head into hundreds of acres of forest and harvest about 200 trees. They would then set up a Christmas tree lot on a vacant space next to my dad’s business. One of the joys of my early life was being invited to join my dad and his buddies to ‘hang out’ while they peddled trees. I remember a warming fire in a 55 gallon drum and the smell of whiskey in their coffee.
You might think that because my dad was so invested in both the harvesting and selling of these trees, that we would have our pick of a choice tree. Every year my dad would find a tree that he ‘felt sorry for’. It was always a Balsam with a couple of gaping holes in its form. I do love Balsam trees for their soft needles and the little pockets of sap on the their skin. I learned very early if you poked the sap pocket with your finger nail, a glistening drop of sap would cover your finger. The smell was Christmas.
The part I miss most about not decorating a tree are the memories attached to the ornaments. Last Sunday in our weekly Zoom call with granddaughter Sofia, she was “decorating” their tree. More than five times
we noticed an ornament that we had passed on or gifted. Those connections with memory are amazing. Who knew that a mouse in a Santa hat could take me back 37 years to a Christmas filled with four kids, who had been thrown into a new family.
I love to drive around and go look at Christmas lights. Certainly there are some spectacular displays. However, nothing warms my heart more than a family tree in a bay window smiling at the world.
Onward and Upward, Mark