Oh Christmas Tree.

On my way home I passed at least three cars with real Christmas trees tied to their roofs. There are always at least a couple of places around town that sell real trees and I always wonder about the people who have to sit in the tents on those lots all night to keep an eye on the trees, especially in cold weather, and sometimes I’ve thought it would be fun to go and buy a Christmas tree at two in the morning. At the very least it would give the people who watch over the trees at night something to do and a fun story to share when the morning shift showed up.

I’ve never had a live tree, though, with one exception. My parents had a fake tree that I think they bought before I was born, and every year in mid-December it would come out of the attic, still in its very sturdy box, and half the fun was sorting the branches and inserting them into the central wooden pole, seeing the “tree” take shape, before we even started putting the ornaments on. My wife and I also had a fake tree but since it’s just the two of us, and the dogs really only care about the presents, we eventually donated it.

I like real trees, though, since every year after Christmas there are drop-off places at local parks where I’ll see piles of dried, browning trees. It’s not a sad thing because the trees are mulched and used to line the paths at Radnor Lake. Nature returns to nature.

That one exception was when I was a kid and after school would go walking through a vacant lot near my house. The lot was rocky and had a few sparse weeds and also stunted cedar trees that pushed their way up. They might not have been as picturesque or fragrant as fir or spruce trees but, one year, when I think I was in third grade, I decided I’d have a Christmas tree of my very own in my room. I couldn’t find an axe in the basement, and even at the base none of the cedar trees were more than two inches thick and so springy an axe would only knock them sideways, but I did find a bandsaw. That seemed like it would be effective and I assumed it would cut through a trunk easily.

An hour later, hot, sweaty, and sore, I had finally cut down a two-foot tall sapling. Cedar wood is soft but getting to the lowest point among the rocks was harder than I expected, and the outer bark didn’t cut easily. Still I managed it, and stuck it upright in a can of rocks, added some water, and put it in a corner of my room with a bright red towel draped around the base. To add to the effect I cut some ornaments out of aluminum foil and swiped a few of those shiny metallic balls, which my mother thought were tacky anyway, and hung those from it. They were too big for the tree but it didn’t matter.

There were also the bagworms. I’ve always wondered if they were disconcerted by the sudden change in temperature. They didn’t seem to notice, though, and were still there after Christmas when I took the tree back to the lot, nature returning to nature.

Facebook Comments


  1. Allison

    I feel better knowing we’re not the only ones who have eschewed the tree tradition. I love them, but they’re a pain. We still have one – it’s silver tinsel – but it’s packed away for some day when we feel more festive.

    Now I have to Google bagworms.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Sometimes, understandably, it’s just too much work, especially when it’s just the two of you. Also I apologize for bringing up bagworms. They’re not exactly aesthetically pleasing and not even the moths they turn into are all that nice.


    Oh Chris’s trees, oh Chris’s trees, how lovely are these stories.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The good thing is I bring these stories inside but leave the bagworms out.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge