Tree-mendous Memories

Wow, just my second post of 2020. So, anything happen in the news this year?

I could go on about my pandemic experience (as boring and lonely, mostly, as anyone else’s, I reckon) or US politics (shit show), but let’s ignore all that and try to get into the spirit of the season, even if COVID has hijacked some of the usual fun and frivolity.

I got my tree this week, a little earlier than usual as I tried to create some Christmas spirit to mitigate some of the gloom of the year, especially with the virus going into overdrive. And the excursion got me thinking of Christmas trees past, which got me thinking of my father (not that it takes much to set me down that particular memory lane, with teary eyes and sniffles to follow).

I don’t think my father deliberately set out to channel Charlie Brown and bring home the scrawniest, sickliest-looking trees. And I don’t think that was always the case; in my early childhood years, I seem to remember some fine specimens, if a little short. But I think as time went on, he looked for a tree later in the season, or he knew my mother wasn’t the most enthusiastic tree person, or he really did feel sorry for those overlooked trees relegated to the far corners of the lot.

But put aside those trees. A much better memory is trudging with father, often through the snow, to cut a fresh tree. That tradition started with ex #1, the one who shall not be named, because she liked fresh trees. I don’t remember when Dad and I first made the trek, saw in hand, to one of the local spots offering fresh trees. I know they were not some big operations; one in particular was just a neighbor down the road who had some pine trees scattered across his property. We’d bundle up, walk around for a bit, sizing up the offerings, then make a decision. Well, I made the decision, remembering his penchant for the Charlie Brown specials. Then, most often than not, he would cut as I held the tree up, then we brought it to wherever I was living at the time.

The tradition continued long after ex #1 left the picture, through #2, right up to #3. And in between the matrimonial blunders, Dad and I would do the ritual even when I lived alone. We did this even as he hit 80; I’m guessing the last year was the winter of ’03, before I moved to Chicago.

By the time I came back East and wanted to do the annual search for the best fresh tree, Dad had died. The ritual ended, too. Now, I go to the lot not far from where I live, where local guys come to sell firewood and trees cut in the nearby national forest. They’re fresh enough; this year’s tree was cut just the day before I bought it. But it’s just not quite the same thing as going out with Dad, bundled up, saw in hand, to spot the just-right tree. Of course, a lot is not the same these days, with him gone and me getting older and more decrepit. But one thing is still true: I always love my tree. And the memories.

The 2020 tree

~ by mburgan on December 6, 2020.

2 Responses to “Tree-mendous Memories”

  1. Merry Christmas, Michael. Lovely post. Christmas without our parents is such a different animal.

  2. Merry Christmas to you, too. Thanks for the kind words. Yeah, a lot is different with him gone…and I know how much you miss your mom.

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