Gardening

Spruce Me Up

I never buy a Christmas tree anymore because I have my big indoor Norfolk pine that is potted. It suffices to hold any ornaments and lights I want, but doesn’t take up a lot of extra room. Back in the day, though, when we would purchase a tree, I always went for the blue spruce. It was more expensive than say a fir, but well worth it.

Real Christmas Trees

Christmas trees bring in their delicious piney scent and serve as a reminder of green things growing and bounty. They were first used by the Germans and brought to the U.S. sometime in the 1800s. Originally people just hung swags of local evergreens over their mantles and doors but soon transitioned to entire trees. The original trees were lit by candles— which in today’s safety first parlance seems like a dangerous nightmare. The lights were a reflection of the twinkle of stars seen among the forest trees.

Types of Christmas Trees

My first trees as an adult were sad little affairs because I had no money. Over time, I was able to select much prettier trees. I like Frasier firs, but my real love is blue spruce. The best Christmas tree to me has firm, thick branches (I have always had cats) that are well spaced and not too gappy. Blue spruce trees are qualified and they also have beautiful blue-green needles. Show stoppers.

My family has always had a fondness for blue spruce. My grandpa was an advocate for growing blue spruce on his property. When they were big enough, he harvested his own Christmas tree. We would go to my grandparent’s home for a tree trimming party. Out came the blown glass ornaments, whose paint had mostly separated from them over the years. Also, the tinsel, which was similarly old and came in separate strands. You had to separate each strand individually and carefully drape them over the stems. The lights were ancient and needed to be gone through one by one, as one damaged bulb would cause the whole line to fail to ignite. It was a tedious, although time honored process. Hot cocoa for children, and hot buttered rum for adults, accompanied the whole affair.

My adult trees were at first cut plants which the city picked up after New Year’s and composted. A little while later, I decided to try growing blue spruce myself and got a little guy at the local nursery. The first year, it was a tiny little specimen with just a few twinkle lights and hardly any ornaments. After the fifth year, it was almost too big to lift to bring in, but we did, and it was decorated to beat the band. After that year, we planted the tree in the yard, where it probably still resides.

I don’t buy trees anymore, as I think it is unsustainable nonsense. I have my Norfolk pine which takes enough décor to make things festive. I do kind of miss those big blue spruces of my younger years though. They say change is good, so I will keep my memories, but also keep my indoor pine, which serves as a year-round vision of nature and evergreen beauty.

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