Thanksgiving morning, while my glorious 30-pound turkey was roasting (to perfection, I¿might add) in the oven, I¿decided to go ahead and put up a real Christmas tree.
I have never had a tree up on Thanksgiving because when I was living with my parents, we always had a real tree. It was nothing super special — I’m talking Kroger parking lot kind of real tree — but we did always enjoy the smell, and both my parents grew up in go-to-the-woods-in-a-winter-wonderland-and-cut-down-our-tree kind of families.
At least, that’s how they remembered it. So a real tree it was, even if our stop at the winter wonderland also involved picking up milk.
I thought that was a tradition I would continue when I¿started decorating my own trees, but my first Christmas after school, I ended up with an unexpected gift. You may recall the fabled Christmas tree of yore, the hand-me-down, 30-year Christmas veteran. It may not have had a real tree smell, but it certainly had endurance. We always had to take our real tree down immediately after Christmas because the needles were falling off and making a big mess.
When you are dealing with 30-year-old artificial trees, though, they prove to be great decor for months on end. Remember the year I¿left my tree up until July? I know, these are the stories you live for.
But if you have been following along with the saga, you will also recall that my beloved tree fell victim to my marriage, home ownership and impending motherhood. Two people have more stuff than one person, and that doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for old trees. Especially when the box is long gone, each branch has to put on separately, and there are about 45 different tree parts that have to be stuffed in a closet. When I would reach for a coat in my old apartment, I¿never was sure if I was going to be impaled by fake evergreen or not. I guess I¿liked the adventure.
Did I¿ever mention to you all that Brandon, however, kept his gorilla suit? I didn’t think I had, seeing as how I am not the kind to think about something as trivial as that. Nope, not at all. Really, I barely even noticed. What gorilla suit?
To be fair, no one made me give the tree away. I was at the new house by myself one day, trying to get some things organized, and in a fit of desperation, I hauled it to the Clark County Community Services thrift store. They were delighted by my Christmas tree. They realized what a gem they had on their hands.
Everyone was happy until the week of Thanksgiving, when I realized that I had no tree. Suddenly it was vitally important to me to put a tree up on Thanksgiving Day, even though I had never done so before.
Maybe all the Christmas commercials got to me, or the 24 hours of Christmas music on the radio. Whatever the cause, I went on a frantic search for the perfect tree to put in front of the big windows in my living room. They look like they were made to display a Christmas tree to maximum effect, and I wanted to take advantage. And provide my Thanksgiving guests with something to gaze upon as they delighted in my awesome turkey.
Having never bought a tree before, I wasn’t sure what exactly differentiated one tree from another, but I bravely entered the world of 9-foot, pre-lit convenience. First a new car, then a new tree. I’m pretty sure my dad would think a pre-lit tree was sacrilegious. Untangling lights is just another part of what makes Christmas, well, Christmas. Not to mention the fact that they were clear lights. My dad was strictly a colored-light kind of man.
Maybe that’s why, as a child, I thought the old, giant satellite dishes covered in colored Christmas lights was the epitome of holiday decor. I wanted my parents to get one of those dishes solely for the purpose of decorating it at Christmas time.
But this year on Thanksgiving morning, I started a new tradition. Nice tree, matching ornaments, red ribbon. It seems to be working OK so far, although I’m always a little taken aback when I plug in the lights that such a tree is actually in my living room.
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to visit with my friend’s grandmother, Mawmaw, the giver of the original hand-me-down tree. She calls it the Love Tree. Needless to say,¿I was a bit nervous about telling her I no longer owned it. Luckily, she was quite understanding. Thirty years is a long time for a tree, and it had lived a good life. She admitted that she, too, had ventured into the pre-lit era. I think she was just happy I had stewarded it well, and gave it three more Christmases.
Only time will tell if my current tree can live up to its predecessor. I have a sneaking suspicion that these modern trees were not made to stand the test of time in quite the same way, but you never know.
Maybe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. I mean, the amazing turkey I served up in the glow of that tree has to be a good omen.