Last night Carla called and said she had hurt her back carrying the Christmas tree down to the basement to store for another year. I still haven't taken ours down but it got me to thinking about some of our experiences with Christmas trees.
When we were very young, we never helped get or put up the tree. It just appeared on Christmas morning all decorated with presents underneath it. That's just the way it was. As we got older we put up the tree a little earlier but only a few days before Christmas, as I remember. One time we were having so much company that Mom hung the tree from the ceiling to give us more room! Another time when I was a teenager I remember Mom and I were shopping in Marshal Fields and we saw a beautiful display tree. Mom decided she wanted it along with all the decorations on it. The clerk didn't know what to say so she got the manager and he sold it to her lock, stock and barrel. I have no idea how much she paid but I bet it was a lot because some of the ornaments were quite beautiful. Mom and Dad had that tree for many years--I wonder if it is still in the attic in Florida?
Once we had our own family we always went out and got our own tree. There was always a lot of argument about what the perfect tree was but in the end Bob would just cut one down and that was it. There are several memorable times, though, that I can think of.
1. One time Ozzie and I left kind of late in the afternoon to find a tree up near Hidden Lakes. We found a really nice tree and got it back to the pickup but discovered we were royally stuck! Not many people go up that road in winter when Buffalo Pass is closed so we were thinking it was going to be a long walk in the dark to get help. Suddenly we saw headlights coming down from even farther up the road! It was the Lions Club folks who had been getting trees to sell in town. They pulled us out and it was a happy ending.
The next day Ozzie proceede to set up the tree. It was too tall so, much to Carla's horror, he cut the top off! She threw a fit--you never cut off the top. You cut off the bottom! Ozzie(it was his first Christmas spent with us) quietly continued to set up and decorate the tree. On Christmas morning (and almost every Christmas since) Carla received a beautifully packaged Christmas tree top as a present from Ozzie. In subsequent years she received as many as a dozen tree tops per Christmas. We still give the original (which is now just a stick) in it's original box.
2. On a rare year when Bob and I were at the cabin with nobody coming for Christmas, Bob decided we didn't need a tree. I insisted so he just went out and cut one on the pond dam. It was about 3 feet tall and a true Charlie Brown tree! We put it on a coffe table and I decorated it. It really wasn't that bad, I guess.
Bob and the Charlie Brown tree
3. The first year I taught in Wendover, Bob got a job in the casino and could not go home for Christmas. Everyone was coming to the cabin so I went back, I flew in to Denver and took the shuttle to Laramie where Danny picked me up. I was the first Christmas Danny and Kathi were going to spend with us at the cabin. Danny and the dogs went up early the next day, but Kathi and I had to wait for the kids to get out of school and had to get the groceries. It was late by the time we got to Walden and we had planned to meet Danny at Harry's so we could all go out together in case the roads were bad. They were so bad Danny had not been able to get to Uncle Albert's buildings. He was stuck as well as a county plow! It was colder than Billie Blue as well! We decided we had to stay with Harry and Donna that night complete with kids, dogs and groceries in their mobile home! They kept that thermostat turned way down and I remember it as one of the coldest nights I have spent!
The next day Danny and Harry went out to see what could be done. By noon Kathi was ready to head back to Laramie but Carla and Jim and family were already headed up to Walden from Casper (this was before cell phones so no way to get a hold of them). Finally about 4 PM Danny and Harry returned saying no way we could drive in. Danny and I still wanted to try it and finally Harry said he and some friends all had snowmobiles and they would haul us all in from the back way!
I wish I had a picture of us going in in the dark with sleds piled high with all our stuff, kids, dogs and food! It looked like the Grinch's sled! After about 3 trips and some spilled food including the turkey which we had to dig in the snow to find, everybody made it in. I made the spaghetti a la Pug, we ate it and got the kids to bed by midnight--but no tree!
Having no tree was unacceptable to Carla, Jim, Danny, and Kathi so they took snowmobiles out into the very deep and unstable snow to get a tree. They had one flashlight which got dropped in the snow during one of the many times trying to pull someone out from being stuck. It couldn't be found (until the next summer--and it still worked). They were only out on the dam by the pond (about 100 yards from the cabin as the crow flies) but it took more than an hour to get there, get the tree, and make it back to the cabin. We decorated it and had a very nice tree for Christmas just like when I was a little girl!