Friday, December 21, 2007

O Christmas Tree

For me, the most important part of the Christmas preparation hoopla is the Christmas tree. I take my tree very seriously. I’ve been collecting ornaments for decades, usually just a couple of new ones each year, but they all have a lot of meaning to me, and I love carefully unwrapping them in mid-December, seeing the old familiar ones again, or being surprised by a new one bought just this year. It’s almost as good as Christmas morning. So to properly showcase my little Christmas treasures takes just the right tree, and I have always made a pretty big deal about finding it. We cut our own at a Christmas tree farm once or twice, but around here, most of the cut-your-own places grow Virginia white pines, and they don’t work for me. Bushy pine trees are great for the traditional round, shiny ornaments, but I like to hang my ornaments on a Fraser fir, which has very distinct branches, with openings in the branches that allow the ornaments to dangle nicely.

For the past few years, we’ve headed to Meadows Farms nursery, which always has a good selection of Fraser firs. When the kids were teenagers, my son would patiently hold up tree after tree for my inspection. Now that he's away at college during tree-picking time, the helpful teenage boys who work at the nursery have to suffice, and they indulge my indecision with good humor.

At some point, the expense of the tree, coupled with the effort it takes to muscle the tree into our old stand, may make me switch to an artificial tree. I give it serious thought every year. I would love to be able to put the tree up on December 1, and not worry about it drying out. It would be the perfect shape, without any bare spots. And I could manipulate the branches in just the right way to make every ornament sit perfectly. But would it be the same without that fresh evergreen smell, the slight tilt to the left, the bare spot that I turn towards the wall, those needles under the rug until March? And while I had always assumed that the artificial tree was the more environmentally friendly choice, it turns out that’s not really true, either (check out this article for a discussion of the pros and cons of each). So for now, I’m sticking with the real tree.

And here’s a bit of tree trivia: The Fraser fir was named for John Fraser (1750-1811), a Scot botanist who explored the southern Appalachian Mountains in the late 18th century. And did you know that North Carolina produces the majority of Fraser fir Christmas trees? It requires from 7 to 10 years in the field to produce a 6-7 feet tree. And I’ll enjoy mine for about 4 weeks.

The Chosen One.

The Christmas tree baler (bet you didn't know it was called that) is an incredible invention--although I imagine encasing your tree in plastic for the short ride home is not exactly the most environmentally friendly way to go.

The fire pit at the nursery makes everything seem more wintry.

A few of the ornaments.


Anonymous said...

Love your tree! I read the article. Interesting it came from New Hampshire. Gotta Love New Hampshire.
Keep on writing I love the blog. ;)

Merry N said...

Hello, anonymous reader! ;-)
Yeah, I thought you'd appreciate that it was from NH. Who knows better about trees? Although I was surprised to hear that my Fraser firs probably came from the south...I assumed they were trucked in from your neck of the woods, or even Canada.
Have a great pre-Christmas weekend! Talk to you soon!