Tannenbaum Traditions

by Curt Kovener     

A tradition, a friend of mine used to opine, is anything done more than once. He just may have something there. I like tradition, however, many otherwise traditional people turn their nose up at the word as though it was a bad thing.

One tradition for many families is acquiring the annual Christmas tree. Through the years, our Christmas ritual seemed to grow. Each year seemed better than the previous. Of course, it could have been my imagination but what is life without a vivid and expanding imagination.

Some parents were adamant; no self-respecting family would allow an artificial Christmas tree to invade their home. An artificial tree was sacrilegious (though bringing a living evergreen tree into the home has its basis in pagan customs). In my youth our family went to great pains making sure our Christmas tree was worthy of our family celebration.

I don’t recall ever going to the woods or a tree farm and cutting a tree. We usually went to the (then) abundant number of seasonal tree lots to size up, shake, turn and inspect just the right tree for our living room.

But when we got it home, we couldn’t imagine how we could have overlooked a bare spot (we turned it to the wall), the crook in the trunk (we wired it up to the drapery valance), or that it wouldn’t fit in the Christmas tree stand (a hatchet was put to use).

One year, I remember, we brought a tree home and could not get it through the front door. After sawing several times on the side porch, Pop was finally able to squeeze it inside. Though, disappointedly, it was about as tall as I was at the time.

Mother threw a red tablecloth on a card table and set the shortened tree on the table. “Santa will have more room for your presents under the tree now,” she told her newly enthused sons.

There was one year that we tried flocking the tree, a do-it-yourself process that made the tree look like it was laden with snow. As I recall you sprayed water on the boughs of green and used a vacuum cleaner with the hose attached to the exhaust side to blow some white fine particles laced with glue onto the tree.

We only did that one year which should give you a clue as to the amount of work and success that was achieved. Not to mention the mess.

Another year I recall helping to set up a Christmas tree and discovered a pinecone on it. While we decorated the tree an ample space was left so that the tree’s own ornamentation could be easily viewed.

Then during a quiet time that evening (a rarity in the Kovener household) I recall hearing, ever so slightly, clicking, snapping and popping as the pine cone, warmed up the indoor temperatures slowly opened.

But over the years no matter what kind, size or shape, each year we had the best Christmas tree ever.