Growing up, I always anticipated our yearly trip to Christmas Forest, just north of Zachary, to choose and cut our Christmas tree. It was my family’s tradition, and I couldn’t wait to begin the yearly trip with my own children. For a few years, my own little family continued on with the tradition, then Christmas Forest closed shop. We tried a few other choose and cut places, but none with the same ambiance. Choosing a pre-cut tree in front of a hardware store wasn’t quite as festive, and while I know some people prefer it, using an artificial tree seemed cold. We decided to think outside the box and start our own Christmas tree tradition.
Two years ago, we bought a small potted evergreen, and put it atop a short table in our living room. It certainly was different from the floor to ceiling tree that usually filled the room during the holidays. In years past, my husband and I spent hours untangling strands of lights, to wrap around the tree. After that was done, my arms would be red and itchy from the needles. We like to let the girls put the ornaments on themselves, a task which they find to be a pleasure, and it never failed that the majority of the ornaments ended up in a cluster all around the bottom, mostly because they couldn’t reach the top. Then there was the Great Christmas Tree Disaster of 2008. That year our tree fell over in the middle of the night with a loud crash waking the house and breaking half our ornaments. I cried. I’m sure I’ll never recover from that horror.
The year we bought our tiny table top tree was a delight. A single strand of lights was all it took to brighten the tiny tree. Thrill of all thrills, the kids were able to independently decorate the tiny tree with a mix of homemade baubles, red and gold balls, and Hallmark ornaments handed down to them from my childhood. I sat on the couch, mug of hot chocolate in hand, a Christmas station on Pandora, and watched them carefully chose a branch for each ornament. They still placed a large majority of the ornaments in a cluster on just a few branches in the middle. But what can you do? And without (much) help, the girls were able to put the bow on top!
We enjoyed our tiny table top tree through the season, but the best part of having a potted Christmas tree was yet to be discovered. After New Year’s Day, as we packed our ornaments and decorations, we realized we didn’t have to say good-bye. Children are strange little people who grow attached to, well, everything. Even conifers. Instead of using the tree to start a bonfire or recycling it to save the coast, we simply moved our tiny tree to a sunny spot in the backyard. The girls could visit their potted friend anytime they wanted, all year long.
Last year, our tiny tree was a little taller and fuller, and so were our girls. This is our third year having a potted Christmas tree, and it’s growing right along with our girls. In fact, our tiny tree got an upgraded, larger pot this year! One day our tiny tree will no longer be tiny, just as our girls will grow from childhood to adolescence. It will be too tall to sit on a table, and eventually our tree will outgrow our home. While I don’t look forward to that day -because our girls will likely be fully grown or nearly there- it won’t be good-bye for our tree. We’ll simply plant the tree in our yard. When our girls are women, it’ll be a symbol of their childhoods. A reminder of our family’s Christmases past will be forever planted in our yard and will see all the Christmases yet to come.
Maybe children are not the only people who become attached to conifers.