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The Christmas tree experience

View from the Porch: Ghosts of Christmas trees past

Published on December 20, 2017 1:48PM

Last changed on December 20, 2017 1:54PM

Christmas trees come in all shapes and sizes, like this one in Seaside, and they're all good.

Eve Marx

Christmas trees come in all shapes and sizes, like this one in Seaside, and they're all good.

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Mr. Sax, who’s been playing “Winter Wonderland,” “We Three Kings” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” on his saxophone day and night to the point where I might hurt him, came in from work the other day to say he’d been offered a free Christmas tree.

“I turned it down,” he said, sounding really sad about it. “Maybe next year we’ll get a tree again. But I was tempted.”

This would be a good time to say Mr. Sax has never been big on Christmas trees. For starters, growing up, his family never had one. He likes them well enough in outdoor spaces and in other peoples’ homes, but not so much in his own. There have been enough Christmas tree bloopers in our married life to put off anyone.

Let’s start with the year our son was in first grade and I was determined to put a tree up. We’d just moved back east after two years in Los Angeles. Christmas is just not the same in the land of palm trees and sweaty Santas schvitzing in their Santa suits. “Schvitz” by the way is a Yiddish term, meaning steam bath or sauna. You may well ask what a person who understands Yiddish needs with a Christmas tree, but that’s how we roll.

That year I brought home a beautiful Douglas fir from the local Rotary. It was a struggle getting it upright in the tree stand. There was some sawing involved and the screws didn’t grab right. The tree listed slightly. Undaunted, my son and I spent the afternoon covering it in silver balls and tinsel. Remember tinsel? It should be outlawed. Around 3 a.m. we were awakened by a loud crash when Duke, the cat I’d rescued at Thanksgiving, leaped on the tree and knocked it down, shattering every silver ball. I was vacuuming up tinsel for weeks.

The next year I decided the heck with the tree. I bought a large metal reindeer lit up with fairy lights. It was intended for outdoor use, but I put it in the living room. Our son named it “Rudolph.” We piled wrapped presents around it. The cat left it alone. When Christmas was over, I draped a red and black Native American rug I’d bought in Arizona over it like a saddle blanket. People who know me well understand this is my idea of interior decorating.

While he was in high school, my son worked at a shop that sold newspapers, magazines, candy, lottery tickets, and cigarettes. They also had seasonal items. A few days before Christmas he came home with a white metal spiral outdoor Christmas tree, which had loops like a multi-tiered hula hoop. Taking after his mom, he thought it should be indoors. The tree set up quickly and we plugged it in and the LED lights came on all bright and twinkly. For a year or two, it became part of the décor. (I retired the reindeer.)

When I was in middle school, my mother, a single mom, chose to work Christmas Day. She was a hospital administrator and being Jewish, she took this day to work so her Christian co-workers might have the day off. This was altruistic but she didn’t think of me, who would have spent the day home alone if it weren’t for my friends who opened their homes to me. I went from house to house admiring their trees, which filled their living rooms, while their moms offered me hot chocolate with marshmallows and invited me to stay for their ham dinners. This is how I learned to love ham. Yes, really.

In Seaside, Tipton’s is an awesome Christmas shop. I was in there a few days ago and was bowled over by their incredible selection of first-rate ornaments. They make it very tempting to rush out and get a tree. There are still quite a few very beautiful ones for sale all around Seaside.

Hey, it’s not too late.


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