As a kid growing up the next best thing to presents and Santa Claus was the Christmas tree. Up until I was 10 years old we always had a fake (dead), tree, it was nice but all that changed in 1986 when we got a cat (Ruffy), who kept trying to climb the tree and knocking it down. And then one weekday evening everything changed.....
So one evening my late father is working late (he worked swing shift) and my mother and I are having dinner at home, normal night. Out of the blue my father (still on the clock before his shift is done), shows up in the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority), work truck (he'd turn it in every night at the bus garage at 77th & Vincennes on the south side), and we look surprised.
He comes in the house, all wide eyed and talking fast (it usually meant he had something good), and he goes back out and drags in a real, live six or seven foot tall Christmas tree. Now despite being 10 years old, we'd never had a live tree, so this was all new and exciting. Dad also had a new metal Christmas tree stand, I remember it was silver and red. He goes into the living room pushes the old tree out of the way and puts the new stand down and puts the tree in it, tells my mother to "get water for the tree".
Then to our shock he says "I got something for that cat's ass" and gets three large carpentry nails out of his back pocket and pounds them nails into that Christmas tree stand right into the floor (well bad 70's shag carpet over a wood floor), using a sizable claw hammer.
Ruffy sat in the corner stunned and like mom & I were. Dad then proclaims he has to "get back to work" and rushes out leaving us with one live, naked tree nailed to the floor and the old fake tree (still with ornaments and lights on it), laying off to the side like it had been shot.
But it was the smell of that tree, you never forget that. Sure it drops so many needles it killed our vacuum cleaner and in today's terms you could say "it made it rain" (needles that is), but nothing smells like Christmas like a fresh tree.
I was in Sam's Club over the weekend and in the lobby they had fresh live wreaths and trees and that smell took me back to 1986 in West Pullman with that first live tree.
Fast forward nearly 20 years and my then fiance (now wife), buy a pre lit fake (dead tree), from a going out of business home store and it lasted all of four or five years before it becomes a sad, half lit tree. Its like that relative you have who drinks enough to annoy you but not drunk enough to be a danger to anyone.
So then after Christmas last year we bought another fake (dead), tree and just put it up (pictured), nice tree right, its pre lit, even changes colors.
But I look forward to the day when I bring in a live tree for our forthcoming child and let him/her experience Christmas like I did. Hopefully I'm not nailing that tree to the floor.
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