My sister Ally texted us the other day reminding us of the year that our dad brought home a HUGE tree for Christmas! Honestly, I remember bits of this but this is me writing the story via ALLY’s MEMORY…..why doesn’t she write it, you ask? Great question!
Our childhood home was quite large (bought during the “good years”). There was an old two story part to the house and then an addition that was put on later, before we bought it. That part had a vaulted ceiling with the highest part reaching 12-14 feet, with the wall sides being about 8 feet tall.
Most years we had a real tree. Some years it was purchased well in advance, and the tree barely survived til Christmas. Other years it was put up the day before! But, I don’t think I remember a year where we didn’t have something, even in our leanest years.
To be sure, we were never this ⇓ when getting our Christmas tree. It wasn’t a magical family event that we looked forward to each year. Usually the tree just showed up, and we decorated it with Christmas decorations that we had recycled year after year. Then we hoped that there would be enough money for a few presents, somehow dad always found a way.
Enter the story Ally reminded us of the other day.
Long ago in a land far away….oh yeah, not this story. Several years ago, whilst we were much younger and times much leaner, it was getting very close to Christmas, and dad still hadn’t delivered on a tree (money and time always a problem). The family insisting on a tree, sent dad trekking out one day with Lonny in tow to deliver us our request for a magical Christmas tree. I mean, what’s Christmas without a tree, right?
I think what’s interesting is that until she had brought this memory up, I had forgotten it almost entirely! Then bits and pieces of it came back, little by little. I think it’s funny what each of us remember, but when reminiscing we piece back parts of our lives, one memory at a time.
This memory though makes me laugh almost as hard as the time Ally and I set the tree branch behind dad’s steering wheel! Oh, I remember every moment of that event and still today we laugh so hard when telling that story! This one is almost as good as that.
Two days before said Christmas, my dad did deliver a tree. I am laughing as I remember it! Every time I watch NL Christmas I can’t help but think of our tree, and I always giggle!
This tree was huge! I remember that Lonny and dad could barely get it in through the door and when they stood it up, the top branches grazed the vaulted ceiling peak (about 12-14 feet). It was huge! Obviously with the length, came a great girth. I remember that dad was so proud of that tree, he said he snagged it for just $15. My sister Ally to this day believes he went to the farm and found an evergreen and simply cut it down!
In fact, my sister insists that they made Lonny do an animal check in the tree!
Once dad and Lon wrangled it in through the door and into the kitchen and dining area (where the vaulted ceiling was) they stood it up. It’s tip brushing the ceiling. You would think it perfect but the problem was that the walkway into the house…and through the house was directly under the highest vaulted part of the ceiling. If we left it there, where it did fit for the height, there was no way around the tree. If you can believe it, my mom loved it. It was so my mother to fall in love with this beast of a tree. I could see her decorating wheels turning in her head. But no matter how we moved the tree there was NO way to get around it as it totally hindered the walkway. If we left it where it fit best it would literally touch the bar where we ate in the kitchen, and the dining table just beyond that in the living room! It was that wide!
After much debate and heavy hearts (my parents heavy hearts) it was decided that the tree would have to be cut shorter.
So reluctantly, and to appease mom, dad hacked off a good portion of the bottom….and the top. Here’s how it went…
If you can picture it….dad and Lonny first cut the bottom portion off, in the house! Redneck you say? Just a tad. That tree was such a beast to get INSIDE the door that there was no way dad was hauling it back out to cut it down! So, he and Lon set about hacking off the bottom with a huge saw right in the kitchen entry. They were both sweating, and you could imagine a bit of colorful language to go along with it! My dad, he had the James Dean type hair, kind of long in a way and slicked back. Any time he was working hard, his hair fell forward and covered his eyes, irritating him further. And Lonny, the best person you will ever meet but I am certain the neighbors heard him that night (he has a very explicit vocabulary when he is irritated). And that was the scene. Dad and Lon hacking at the immense tree in the middle of our kitchen with dad’s hair something akin to Beetle Juice and Lonny cussing with every movement of the saw.
I laugh right now because when I look at Instagram to awesome insta-inspirationals like Natalie from Vintage Porch and anything that Joanna Gaines does, it always all looks so magical! I imagine a chaotic “behind the scenes” to achieve that look, only because I can’t imagine it any other way. In any Christmas we manage to put together as a family, there is always chaos surrounding the event! It wouldn’t be TheArtofAnderson if it wasn’t 😉
But back to the story….once the base was cut, dad had to cut more tree limbs off so that it would have a “trunk” that would fit a tree stand. He was so set against cutting too much off though that the branches nearly touched the floor! Once cut, it was still so tall that more needed to come off so instead of taking more off the bottom (which apparently was quite difficult) they just hacked a portion off the top! 😉 Yep, are you getting a good vision of this tree yet? There was no tippy top to the tree, and the base was huge and you could see where dad had to cut several limbs off just to make a trunk!
Then, we didn’t have a tree stand big enough to truly support it, so it teetered precariously once in the base. Dad ended up having to tie it to the half wall that separated the dining room and the entry area for more stability. Seriously, we tied the tree to the wall! Then, I remember that we had to move the dining table because it was so large that you couldn’t fit IT and the table in the same room!
When it was finally up, we realized that we barely had enough trimmery for it, and so it looked like a peasant tree with a random Christmas ornament here and there, and a little tinsel thrown about for good measure. The lights were random, and never really reached near the top.
Regardless, dad stood back like Clark Griswald at his proudest and admired his tree as he combed his hair back into place.
It was still so wide that when you walked into the house and rounded the corner from the entry, you still ran into part of the tree branches. That’s the part I remember….mom told me via phone before we came home that they had “a grand tree” and that I was gonna love it! As I rounded the corner and ran into a branch, and looked up nearly to the top of the peak to see this awkward evergreen with a stubby top and a bottom where it’s branches lay about on the floor in spots (lest dad cut too much of his tree off), with what seemed two Christmas ornaments, a string of tinsel and a couple of Christmas lights, and a rope holding the tree up via the wall. I remember looking over at my parents, like they were nuts….but there they stood…beaming at their tree and smiling. I simply smiled back and said, “yeah it’s beautiful”…who was I to be the Grinch to ruin their Christmas.
I looked hard but believe it or not, I cannot find a picture of that Christmas. I am so sad. The things you don’t realize at the time will make a forever memory! TAKE PICS OF EVERYTHING-lesson learned to late!
Mom loved that damn tree almost as much as dad. It stayed up well past New Years and was a dry brittle mess before it came down. I’m not sure exactly where dad got that tree from? Whether he found it on the farm, or at a store as he claims (we still doubt that one), a lone massive stray evergreen….it was loved and admired immensely for the remainder of it’s life.
You gotta love the holidays, National Lampoons style and all!
Written by Carla but pretty much told via Ally (who should’ve wrote the dang post herself)!