Jean and I have put up so many Christmas trees that a stroll through our house feels like a walk in the woods.
Well, I might be exaggerating slightly, but we do have more than one. No, I’m not bragging, but neither am I complaining.
My wife does such an amazing job decorating our home for Christmas. Not only is there a tree in almost every room... some rooms have two. A couple of them are only two feet tall, including the two little ones on the front porch. Needless to say, we love Christmas trees.
I remember a time in my life when Christmas was much different from these days. Going back to my childhood, there was never a Christmas when we didn’t have a tree, but never more than one each year. Mama would not allow us to put up our tree until a few days before Christmas, and it usually came down the day after.
That was because it was a real tree and we had a coal-heater.
Those trees were cedars and they dried out quickly. One errant spark from that heater and those trees would have lit up like a Roman candle.
Our trees now look real, but they aren’t. If someone asks, “Where did you get your trees?” I might answer, “From the attic.”
Of course, before they were in the attic, they were in a store. I was grown before I ever pulled an artificial tree from my attic, or before I ever bought a tree.
For one thing, we didn’t have an attic, but even if we had, I wouldn’t have gone there to get a Christmas tree.
We didn’t go to a store or a Christmas tree farm to buy one either. Back then we went to the woods to get our Christmas trees. They weren’t anything special; just simple cedar trees.
My first memories of Christmas tree hunting was with my older sister Joan. She was six-years older than me and a much more experienced hunter...tree hunter, that is.
Directly behind our house was a cow pasture and beyond that were woods. We could usually find our treasure in the pasture but if not, the woods would contribute. A bow saw would have been the perfect tool, but since we didn’t have one, we used an axe. Fortunately, neither of us chopped down a leg.
The hardest part of hauling our cedar back home was getting it over the fence. One year we dragged a tree all the way back home before we realized it contained a hornet’s nest. Maybe artificial trees are best. At least I’ve never seen a hornet’s nest in one. The good thing was that the hornets had already vacated their premises before we cut the tree.
Tree hunting with my sister is one of my favorite Christmas memories from those days. After she was grown and gone from home, I still went to the woods for our tree but not alone. My trustworthy canine named Big-Pud was always ready for an adventure.
The artificial trees these days look so real it’s hard to tell the difference. You can even buy spray to make them smell like the real thing. Many things have become part of Christmas that aren’t real, but the real meaning of the season still remains the same.
Whether we put up a tree that came from the attic, one that came from the woods or no tree at all, one thing remains the same and is real– Christmas is still the birth of God’s son, Jesus.
Hey, we need to make sure we are the real deal too. Merry Christmas!
— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.