By TOM YODER
Some have their own theories and I have mine (I guess it’s called “to each his own”), but to me Christmas is a time for celebration, not only for the birth of Jesus, but also the family and the passed-down traditions of years gone by.
It was expected, for as long as I can remember (80 years and counting), to celebrate this holiday with the traditional Christmas tree, exchanging of gifts, laughter and excitement. To me it just isn’t Christmas without it.
Now, as I age, my wife and I celebrate on Christmas Eve to allow our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren their individual Christmases and morning excitement. One might say “the torch has been passed.”
While we could still hold these activities at our home, which we used to do, we now rent a hall because of the increasing size of our extended family (35 to 40 and growing) and the convenience it offers. Our condo is on two different levels, which meant that some were up and some were down and that, quite often, meant kids were on one level and adults on another — the hall makes it perfect.
As a child it was always something us kids looked forward to. My parents would tease us with hints of what “maybe” was coming and the excitement would increase each day leading up to that eventful “Christmas morning.”
It never had to be much, just a special toy or a “had-to-have” that made our day. Sometimes it was a sneak-peek in the closet, where gifts were hidden only to be reprimanded that Santa was watching and the gifts were going to go away.
When my wife and I were first married, my wife introduced a new form of teasing with one “shaker gift” that could be shaken once it appeared under the tree. Every day each child (all six of them) could shake their gift and guess what it might be. If the guess was correct they would get to open it as an early gift.
This activity was aggravated by concealing or dummying the gift by placing it in a tube or a larger-than-necessary box. It was as exciting as opening gifts on Christmas morning and always gave them something to look forward to each year. They still talk about it — you too should give it a try.
My wife and I have graduated to (or dumbed down to) the artificial tree, mainly because it takes less work to erect and less clean-up after the holidays, although I still do miss the scent of a fresh pine tree and the less than perfect form. A store-bought artificial tree is just “too” perfect.
However, once they’re decorated with a gazillion ornaments accumulated over decades and the beaded ropes, ribbons, and the angel topper they will all look pretty much the same.
If you’re purchasing a fresh-cut tree from a local vendor make sure that it is what they say “fresh cut.” Tree life varies with the weather conditions since they were cut but normally they will last five to six weeks without losing needles if “prepped” correctly before taken indoors.
If your tree hasn’t been shaken properly when purchased, bounce it on a hard surface several times to loosen and remove dead needles that have lodged on the inside branches. Saw an inch or more off the bottom of the trunk (this is important) to expose fresh wood and then place the tree in a bucket of water overnight. Try the aspirin trick by putting several aspirin in the water bucket. It is said that it will help absorption and quicken the hydration.
Once inside and mounted in a tree stand make sure that the trunk easily reaches the water reservoir. It’s most important to keep a daily vigil on the reservoir so that there will always be water available for the tree — especially the first few days.
Once the holiday is over and needles begin to dry and fall it’s best to remove it to the outside to remove the fire hazard.
P.S. A big apology to a former associate Dorothy (Shotgun) Keyes for failing to thank her and Herman Blackport, in last week’s column, for my Garden Center position. Shotgun has been a blessing in my life and we have been friends from the start of my involvement with Everett’s. We are of the famous “31’s” and you’ll have to ask her what that means.