Now I’m not opposed to others having an artificial Christmas tree, but for this old gal it’s a cedar - a Boone County, wild, bushy, flat on one side, prickly, smelly cedar tree!
It’s preferably cut from the woods on the day that it gets mounted in a container where it can be watered daily, and it will have a used bird’s nest attached deep inside, abandoned.
Part of bird motherhood is the building a new nest each year. The abandoned nest makes a nice holder for important Christmas gifts - coins, rings and wrapped candies. I have occasionally sprayed the bird’s nest with silver, gold or white paint. Children like to receive tiny gifts in the nest, wedged between the trunk and one of the limbs.
Local cedar makes a bang-up, jim-dandy Christmas tree - God-made and perfectly shaped even with one flat side! Mom taught me that homes become crowded at Christmas time and few people set a big tree out in the middle of the room. One flat side against the wall saves space, and the wall is a nice background for cranberry and popcorn chains and other ornaments. Fragrance is the unique feature of a naturally grown cedar! To some of us natives, it’s not Christmas until we smell that fresh cedar aroma.
Some people choose a small, artificial pine that stays decorated, carefully covered, in the attic or basement from one Christmas to the the next. In late December they bring it to the living room for a couple of weeks - it needs no watering or decorating, and no needles fall on the carpet, but there’s no cedar fragrance.
Freshness, color and the cedar smell are the natural characteristics of locally grown trees. It’s not necessary to spray it to make it green - it is green - except after an extremely dry summer.
I shudder to see a load of harvested pines tightly stuffed into individual mesh bags and stacked high in an 18-wheeler - being hauled from far north.
They’re delivered before stores have their Halloween pumpkins and costumes on display - cut as early as July and August.
I’m prejudiced about Christmas trees because I cut, sold and delivered native cedars when I was in high school. Often darkness overtook me in the woods as I carried a tree in each hand or pulled my sled in snow with several tied to the sled. One customer said, "If no one is at home when you deliver it, leave it on the porch and I’ll mail the check."
I knocked on that door many times and could hear voices inside, but no one answered and the check never came!
On Christmas Eve I had to decide: let them steal my tree or teach a lesson in honesty? I opted to teach the lesson, picked up the tree and dumped it into a ditch at the farm, but I’ve never been comfortable with that spur-of-the-moment decision!
One year I thought all of the orders had come in, but a caller asked the price of a large tree and I added 25 cents to the regular price. He was decorating for a fraternity dance and bought six trees! Dad helped me with that because freezing rain covered everything overnight and the trees were heavy!
We hauled the six trees in with the mules pulling the wagon. We melted the ice by standing the six trees upright in the warm milk bottling house over night.
Three cheers for an old-fashioned Christmas with its traditions and its needles on the carpet! And I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas with your own favorite tree!