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Christmas Trees I've Known
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Someday natural Christmas trees will probably be about as common during the holidays as horse drawn sleighs. Even people who don't go in for the artificial sort weigh their trees down with so many ornaments (glass, ceramic, knitted, animated) and lights (blinking and bubbling, large and miniature) and so much tinsel, not to mention spray-on snow, that there might as well be a large garden gnome or a Dalek under it all.

Fake trees used to be all but unheard of. My grandparents didn't always buy a tree or cut one down, however. When I was a kid my dad's first Christmas tree was still growing behind the house where it had been planted decades before, a good 60 feet tall. There was a long row of tall pines beside the garden and more than once my grandfather cut the crown off one to use in the living room. In the fifties even the trees had flattops.

My parents were particular about trees. For years we had blue spruce. Beautiful to look at but the sharp needles made decorating the boughs a less than joyful experience.

The trees also had to be straight as a plumb line. Maybe that's why I remember affectionately some of the forlorn trees I mistakenly brought home -- trees that revealed huge gaps when their limbs thawed out and came down, trees with crooked or forked trunks. I became less than discerning after tramping around the tundra of tree lots for hours. The howling artic gales froze my my brain and eyeballs.

Still, it seemed in the spirit of the holidays to give those poor trees a good home, to dress them up and make them the center of attention, even if they weren't perfect.

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