Copyright John Dappert 12/14/97
The Perfect Christmas Tree
During this holiday season in my youth, I was always disappointed at my father, who brought home some of the most miserable excuses for Christmas trees. He would grab the handsaw about a week after thanksgiving, and spend very little time choosing greenery to decorate our house. “There is just no excuse for spending twelve hard-earned dollars for a tree we will throw away at the first of the year”, he would bellow in that loud authoritarian voice of his. Usually we used large limbs growing out from an evergreen in the middle of the old unused windmill tower in the front yard. Those limbs were flat on the bottom side, so they would go flat against the wall and not take as much space in our small house. We never could go around our trees with tinsel and lights, as the flat side against the wall was full of dead limbs and contorted branches. Strangely enough, the front of the tree often didn’t look too bad, especially after my sisters would apply the popcorn strings, icicles, and hand-made ornaments that accumulated each year. It seemed someone made something each year. A star my middle sister cut out from a bean can lid usually held the place of honor at the top of the tree. As we looked at that sorry excuse for a tree during the season, we usually grew to accept the imperfections, and hated to see it go on New Years Day. Still, I promised myself when I got old enough; my family would have a proper tree in the house, and not a beat-up scrap from a bush in the yard.
When my wife and I met in college, her parents had decided not to put up a tree, since their only daughter had left the house and was living in the dorm. Sue and I decided we would re-start the tradition, and spent a lot of time each year picking the perfect tree. We went from place to place where trees were sold, including cut-your-own lots, in an effort to find the perfect tree to decorate for the season. We would bring the tree home, assured that each year we had attained decoration perfection, only to find something wrong each year. We had a large illuminated snowman, which almost always found a place in a bare spot somewhere on the tree. Tinsel would cover up miss-placed branches, and sometimes old magazines would have to be placed under one leg of the stand, in an effort to compensate for a crooked trunk not noticed until the tree had been placed in the living room. Somehow, though, after the tree was up, we would all back off and exclaim each year, “You know, it’s just the best tree we ever had!”