I’ll Take Christmas Trees for $1000, Alex

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By Jack James

‘Tis the Season! Ahhh, holiday shoppers are still nursing cuts, bruises and abrasions from a spirited riot, attempting to buy cheap foreign made televisions at local department stores. I saw a thing recently that said, “You gotta love a people who, just 24 hours before, were thanking their Lord for all they had and then go out and beat the ‘dog mess’ out of people for a cheap toaster.”

Democracy! In some countries they will give you a free broken arm if you even think of trying to find a toaster. In America, we will break it for free. People in the deep Amazon regions don’t hurt each other for small appliances, and it’s a good thing. It’s probably because they don’t have plug-ins anyway.

I see that many of my friends and acquaintances have put their Christmas trees up already, some even before Thanksgiving. A former friend, a crazy old cat lady, used to brag that she had put up eight trees in her home. That proved to me that she was pretty much crackers. Maybe she just loved to confuse her poor kids. Santa must have been a bit puzzled as well.

Many moons ago, my father and I would be out about this time of year, giving a final observation to the small cedars that we had scoped out through the previous months. Dad would remember a candidate tree deep in a field where he had been hunting. We’d get all the way to it just to find it had a flat side or a whole in one side. The strip pits on the west side of Huntington, just outside of the city-limits were some of the best areas for good trees. Birds would drop seeds on the hillsides and the cedars were never touched until my father and I would shinny down the shale sides of the ravines with our saws and axes. Half of the fun of the tree was the adventure in the hunt. We would bring that tree home and brag throughout the season about where and how we found it. You would think we had saved a hound dog from a puppy mill by the pride in our voices.

The Christmas tree is one of the most popular and cherished Christmas customs. Americans purchase and decorate around 35-40 million live trees each year. Picture it. Germany. 1521. An early European family brings the outdoors indoors. Diaries record that the trees were decorated with roses, dolls, apples, colored paper, wafers and sweets. At the end of their celebration, it was their custom to shake stuff off of the tree like an inside-out piñata and scramble for the treats and goodies that fell to the floor. The first mention of a lighted tree that I could find was in the 1700s. It wasn’t as we know today, of course, but lighted candles. You don’t want to shake a dead tree with lighted candles. Be warned. What life-threatening mess of fire or, at least, dead needles to pick out of the carpet too!
So whether your tree is fir, pine, cedar, plastic or even aluminum, now you know way more than you ever needed. Feel free to discuss among yourselves or perhaps wow the in-laws over your Figgie Pudding!

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