Monday, December 17, 2018

ChristmasTrees ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Sunday was Christmas-tree day here at the Watsons. We were hoping for sunshine. Instead, it was misting rain. There were low places on the way to Pine Hill Farms where the mist was as thick as gauze. The soles of my shoes squished in parking-lot mud, but our spirits lifted when we saw a stand of ice-blue cedars among the Christmas trees. We knew our tree was there. 
For years, we bought our trees from Mr. Frye who owned a Christmas Tree farm near Burrows Crossing. When he decided to retire, it broke our hearts.  We did some research and found Pine Hill Farms near Fultondale. Since then, it’s been our go-to place for trees. That’s where we bought our first ice-blue cedar last year.
We have a forest of Leyland Cyprus trees in our yard that are now taller than the power lines. Last year we wanted something different. We saw a lonely blue ice cedar. Jilda walked around it several times examining the color and smelling branches. 
It was a little smaller than the trees we had chosen in the past, but this little tree resonated with both of us, so we bought it. 
This year there were several ice-blues, and they were larger than last year’s trees. We squished over acres of trees before going back to the first tree we saw when we pulled up. Jilda stood guard by the tree while I went inside to settle up with the cashier.
An older gentleman at the tree farm that could have doubled as Santa helped us. He sent two young guys hustling down to dig up the tree. 
Santa guy started giving me instructions on setting up and caring for a live tree. Jilda and I both listened politely. When he paused, we told him we'd planted our last 35 Christmas trees. It took a moment for that to sink in with him. He smiled and said, "I'll get the kids to load it for you." 
It's a beautiful little tree. After Christmas, we'll find the right place on the farm where it fits and adds to the Feng shui and what not. 
On Friday, I fetched the tree decorations that we store in the barn. Again, it was rainy, but Jilda perked up a pot of her world-famous hot-apple cider, and we listened to Christmas music while decorating the tree. 
Jilda fell into a Zen’ish place (Is that a word?). While she works on the tree. I’ve learned not to talk during this delicate phase of decoration. Each bulb, icicles, and crystal angel have a place on the tree. Only my lovely spouse knows that location. My job is to fetch ornaments. This requires that I interpret grunts and other guttural sounds. It’s a process that works for us.
After decorating the tree, we went for a walk to stretch our legs. During the walk, I saw a small bush in the underbrush that provided a Christmas Deja vu experience.
Just off our walking path, was a small thorny bush. It was the same kind of bush that I cut for my mama each Christmas when I was in grammar school. That was over 50 years ago.  
Mama filled lard can with dirt for a makeshift gumdrop-tree stand. On each of the thorns, she stuck a sugary gumdrop on each thorn. The candy turned the gnarly little bush into a thing of beauty each Christmas. 
When I showed Jilda the small thorn bush and told her about our gumdrop trees at Christmas, she said that her Maw-Maw Mamie made those each year too. 
Today, after I pick up some gumdrops, we’ll start having one too. 
Below is a tree from Christmas Past.


  1. I am a bit misty here. Perfect memories, and beautiful traditions will do that to a girl.

  2. My one try at a live tree gave me back issues for years digging it out (part of the deal, no help in digging) and loading it in my station Wagon. I forgot to pre-dig a hole at home and after Christmas the ground was frozen solid. By the time I could dig it in the tree expired.

  3. Your old Christmas tree is so lovely decorated with snow. I'm sure the birds love as a safe place to hide when it get cold.
    What a cute idea to decorate a thorn bush with colorful gumdrops. Do birds eat the gumdrops?
    Hugs, Julia

  4. How wonderful to enjoy those trees year after year. I've seen gum drop trees, but not quite like your memory. What a wonderful way to decorate a thorn bush. There truly is something beautiful to be found in everything! Especially in nature.

  5. The gum-drop tree is a marvelous idea. I hope to see a picture.

  6. What Emma just said. (LOL) Color me, intrigued!

  7. I love your tradition of getting a live tree and I'm sure this one will thrive in it's new home. I hope you put a pic of it here! Traditions and memories of home at Christmas time...I love hearing others stories! Thanks for sharing!


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