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Christmas trees...
« on: December 22, 2010, 09:27:25 AM »
... and families.

Mr. Thipu and I prefer an artificial tree.  They're very nice these days and it saves us the bother of hocking a real tree up to our third-floor apartment.  Even better, it saves us the problem of getting the dying thing out.  Saws in our living room are not an option.

However, when I was a child in the 1950s, artificial trees looked like hat racks.  My Grandmother tried one once and then sent Grandpa out on Christmas Eve to get a 'real' tree.  That wasn't the best Christmas in the family.

My parents always chose a scotch pine.  In the 1950s these trees were rather exotic but we always paid the premium price for one.  The premium price at the time was 15 USD. 

Scotch pines were prized because they were very bushy and full.  They were also small enough to get into the house.  They lasted a long time and, much like a good dog, didn't shed much. 

There was another reason why we bought scotch pines.  The trees were sold to support the local volunteer fire company and ambulance corps.  Those were important civic services that had to be supported.  A scotch pine in your home meant that your family members were good citizens.

However, scotch pines had their problems.  Somehow they always seemed to have a bend in the trunk.  No matter how good it looked in the lot, getting the tree to look right in the stand was a major effort.  Without major shimming, the tree always bent one way or the other.  Also, scotch pines always seemed to have two top branches.  We'd put on the tree top and another branch would jut up right beside it.  We'd change the tree top and the other one would be right in your face.  OK.  A small saw did need to be brought into the living room.

Another branch of the family, we'll call them the Smiths had a very different view.  They had to have the tallest possible tree.  It didn't matter if the thing looked like a hat rack covered with green coat hangers.  Height was all that mattered.

Some years this reached absurd proportions.  The 12 ft. tree just wouldn't fit in a room with 8 foot ceilings.  A lot of the better part was cut off the bottom and the star on top kind of drooped over about a foot below the ceiling because the tree was still too tall.  That didn't matter to the Smiths.  Taller was better and that was it.             



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Re: Christmas trees...
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2010, 09:54:41 AM »
My brother is allergic to pine. In the mid-50's, my mom bought a 4.5 foot all aluminum tree and a light wheel. (It had a spotlight and a disk that rotated with 4 different colors so that whatever color was in front of the light was the color the tree was.) At least it was really easy to put up and my brother could enjoy Christmas.

Now one of my minor annoyances is when someone gets an absolutely gorgeous artificial tree and doesn't fluff the branches and they look like shelves. If that's what you want, make a wooden tree with shelves and display interesting toys and figurines on it. My BIL does that, and it's really cool.


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Re: Christmas trees...
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2010, 10:34:09 AM »
When we got our first artificial tree Mr. Thipu took a look at it and said with a whine. "It's so sparse!" 

Once the tree was taken out of the box and fluffed up it was perfectly fine.  The problem is that people often assume that an artificial tree will look perfect right out of the box.  It will automatically puff up and be ready to go in fifteen minutes.

Erm, no.

Real trees rarely look great when you bring them into the house.  They require a lot of grooming.  A decent artificial tree will need at least as much work as a real tree.  Be prepared for it. 

It might seem great to buy a decorated tree but you can't just open the thing like an umbrella and have it all be perfect.  In my experience, Christmas must always involve a little bit of discomfort.       


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Re: Christmas trees...
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2010, 10:47:37 AM »
We have an artificial tree that I strung 2,200 lights on last year.  It took me DAYS to get it all done, but when it was, it was awesome. 

This year, I took the tree out of the bag, fluffed the sections one by one, put it all together and plugged it in.  Voila.  Awesome!  Took me about 2 hours.  And all the lights worked!!


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Re: Christmas trees...
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2010, 06:09:04 AM »
We went to KMart and got one that is made entirely of fibre optics that is about 3' tall, and rotates on its' base when you turn it on, changing colour and lighting up.

Most gorgeous.

Mum was appalled - Christmas trees must be REAL and they must be DECORATED.

I think it's the fact that mine takes forty seconds to set up is the thing that is causing her consternation, and hers takes about a day.
... it might frighten them.


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Re: Christmas trees...
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2010, 01:21:37 PM »
Even though we have an artificial tree, it takes time to put together.  In my experience, a tree shouldn't be ready to go in fifteen minutes.  A good tree takes time to be properly decorated.

I've posted elsewhere about the diver surrounded by a school of colorful fish in the presence of a mermaid.  We also have a little schooner ornament that goes a few branches above to complete the picture.

In my family the ornaments were available for about a week before Christmas.  After the basic trimming of the tree was accomplished (topper, lights and garlands) people walked by and added an ornament or two as the spirit moved them.  By Christmas Eve the tree was done and gorgeous. 



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Re: Christmas trees...
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2010, 12:24:36 AM »
We had one of those aluminum trees when I was a teen.  It was a piece of dowel with holes drilled in, painted silver.  You stuck the aluminum-covered wire branches into them.  And we learned early on the first day it was up to use only unbreakable ornaments on it and to wire them to the branches.

The cats thought it was the greatest toy since catnip mice.  They would start at the far end of the hallway, in order to build up maximum speed, come thundering down the hallway, through the living room, leap on the tree which of course immediately went flying as the branches parted ways from the 'trunk', carom off the walls, bounce through the kitchen door and charge up the cat tree in the dining room.  Bonus points if they could knock that over too.

DH (then DF) was baffled at our reaction the first time he heard the thundering gallop begin.  And it does look weird when your girlfriend suddenly pulls her knees up to her chest and flings her arms across her face, I will give him that.  But it takes only one time of having the cats gallop across your lap and getting whacked in the nose with a turquoise satin Christmas ornament before you learn to take proper precautions!
Common sense is not a gift, but a curse.  Because then
you have to deal with all the people who don't have it.


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Re: Christmas trees...
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2010, 03:49:35 AM »
In the next village over, there is a small Christmas tree plantation by the river. Every 23 December I go over and they will cut me one down- we go out and choose one. This year they joked that now they could close the gates because I'm always the last customer!
NE England

White Dragon

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Re: Christmas trees...
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2010, 11:14:31 AM »
T'was the week before Christmas, lo those many years ago and the Dragon family purchased a tree from the selection at the grocery store.
(In our part of the world, if you're not cutting your own, you get one from the supermarket.)

Well, there weren't a lot to choose from and Papa Dragon picked the best one he could.

Apparently, this meant a tree that had been cut in oh...September or there abouts.
We discovered this when we removed the protective mesh and nothing moved to "fluff up".
Not a branch. Not a twig. Not a single needle.

Correction - there were needles.
A small flood of brown needles to be precise.

Well, the tree was still mostly green, so we tried to fluff it up a bit.

Note, dear reader, my use of the word "tried".

The branches were not particularly interested in returning to their original, spread out state.
They seemed content to stay snug against the trunk, in some bizarre form of arboreal hibernation.

Looking more closely, we noticed that the branches had trapped a considerable amount of...stuff...between the boughs and the trunk.
Presumably this was mostly needles, but there was so much of it, that we weren't sure about the presence of additional livestock.
You know - mice. Squirrels. Moose...

In any case, no one was interested in reaching their hands in to clear out the mess and extract the trapped branches.
Being reasonably intelligent - and not a little desperate - we decided to let gravity do the work.

Accordingly, I turned the tree upside down.
And shook it vigorously. Stuff fell out.
Encouraged, I repeated the process several more times.

Unfortunately, while I seem intelligent enough to acknowledge the function of gravity, I also lack depth perception.
On approximately the fourth or fifth shake I bumped the top of the tree into the deck.

The top foot or so of the tree snapped like, well, a dry twig.

"Honey", I called, "I've decapitated the Christmas tree."

The entire family trooped out to observe the carnage.
The consensus was clear.
I'd killed it.
Yep. I killed the Christmas tree.

Oddly enough, no one seemed inclined go back to the store and select another "live" tree.

And that is why the Dragon family currently uses an artificial tree.
And I'm happy to say that I've never decapitated it.  :D
"I think her scattergun was only loaded with commas and full-stops, although some of them cuddled together for warmth and produced little baby colons and semi-colons." ~ Margo


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Re: Christmas trees...
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2010, 09:43:54 PM »
I bought a Douglas fir this christmas. It looked beautiful for the first two weeks. I kept it very well watered. Unfortunately, it would appear that the tree was already quite old and had been cut some time ago, because it is currently so dead and dry that we're afraid to turn the lights on and branches snap if you bump into them. A few branches have snapped off completely from the weight of the ornaments, and my days are punctuated by the thud of falling ornaments and the pattering shower of needles hitting the floor.

Yep. Next year, I'm getting the freshest danged tree I can possibly find.


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Re: Christmas trees...
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2010, 05:57:21 AM »
Well I can reccomend a good place if you are in the North East of England...
NE England


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Re: Christmas trees...
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2010, 01:39:14 PM »
I took the tree down last night.

The thing is, we have carpet. The tree was so dry by that point that needles were falling off in droves as I took the ornaments off. I actually bloodied my fingertips because the branches were snapping and cutting me.

I imagined DH trying to heave that thing out of our living room, across the carpeted floors, and outside. I pictured the number of needles that would litter the carpet, and the damage that DH would suffer while trying to move the stupid dead tree.

So I grabbed my heavy duty pruning shears, spread some plastic around the base of the tree, and I cut the danged thing into pieces. I just stuffed the branches into a heavy duty garbage bag as I cut them off (I swear those bags should have a caption that reads "the preferred brand of serial killers!" because they're so thick and strong that you could easily dispose of a body or several body parts in them). The branches filled one bag.

When DH came home, he was greeted by the sight of the lonely, bare trunk of the tree still in the stand, bristling with little nubs from where I'd cut the branches off. I told him HE can get rid of that part.


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Re: Christmas trees...
« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2010, 07:22:29 PM »
Trash bag brand X recommended by Dexter! 

I am allergic to pine also, but did not know it until my first Christmas away from home and I got my very own little tree. 
And hives.

Fear is temporary...Regret is forever.


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Re: Christmas trees...
« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2010, 07:33:16 PM »
One year, *somebody* ahem...wasn't very good about keeping the tree watered. A week before Christmas, we realized that the tree was losing needles at an alarming rate. We watered it STAT, but it didn't take any water up...the little tubules inside the trunk had sealed up, like when you let a bouquet of flowers dry out.

We looked at it long and hard, looked at each other and sighed, and DH went and got the electric chainsaw.

We unbolted it from the stand and DH picked it up a couple of feet. He held it in midair for nearly ten minutes while I lay on the floor sawing the bottom few inches off the trunk. In our living room.

You can't even imagine. Needles went everywhere; we still aren't sure if the handling knocked more needles off than just letting it sit. We both got sap all over our hands. I thought I would never get all the sawdust up. It was one of the worst Christmas fiascoes in my 42 Christmases.


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Re: Christmas trees...
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2010, 10:58:08 AM »
Dear White Dragon,

Your post is absolutely hilarious.  It also rings perfectly true.

My mother loved to look at the tree while she said her evening prayers.  She gave it up one year when the sound of falling needles disrupted her concentration.