In CT, Christmas can grow on trees


Let’s face it, putting a dead tree in your house and decorating it with glitter and ornaments is pretty screwy.

The only thing that’s even more squirrel bait is doing the same thing with a fake tree.

My suspicion is that the whole thing started in Germany in the 1600s when a farmer punked his wife by dragging a Tannenbaum into the cabin and propping it up in the corner to see how she’d react.

“What the Hölle is that for?”

Christmas keepsakes 

What’s the oldest holiday memento in your family? Is it an ornament handed down through generations? A cherished lawn decoration? Videos of Christmas past? A vintage card? 

Share photos of the items, along with their stories (no more than 75 words), at opinion@hearstmediact.com.


“It’s the latest thing, Mother. Brightens up the room and freshens the air, don’t you think?”

And thus began the Neverending Great Christmas Con.

I’m one of those saps (tree puns are harder to resist than holiday cookies). Here’s an excerpt from my wife’s recent Facebook posting about our ritual of sawing our own tree at Jones Family Farms in Shelton. The tradition begins with “immediately spotting the Perfect Tree” upon arrival atop Candy Cane Hill, where one can “feel all the frigid force of the winter breezes” (yeah, yeah, it’s still autumn. She’s a poet, so she has a license to do that).

“If we found such a great tree so quickly there must be an even more perfect one to be found among the rolling hills of evergreens,” she writes of my reasoning, followed by the inevitable realization that that first perfect tree will never be located again.

I have that coming. I have yet to accept that there is no perfect tree, real or fake. And I’ve been needling (I’ll stop now) my wife about one particular Jones misadventure since 2000. We’d already been cutting down trees there for our apartment for three years. Since we’d just bought our first home, Lisa was excited to pick up a second, smaller evergreen to display from the side porch.

While I was on my hands and knees with the saw, she wandered off and returned with an elfin tree.

“Look, I found the perfect one,” she declared. I’d never seen her happier.

“Uh, huh,” I sighed. “You know all sizes cost the same to cut down. You can buy a small one at the entrance for aChristmas lot less. You just killed a baby tree.”

I tied the big one to the roof and tossed the babe into the trunk. When we pulled up to pay, I handed over the cost of two trees.

“Naw, it’s not that much,” the cashier said with a ho, ho, ho.

“I have two.”

He studied the roof.

“Where’s the other one?”

I explained.

“Wow, you’re honest,” he exclaimed before I rode out of sight.

But first, he handed me two pewter ornaments that Jones includes with each tree. That’s how I know the year. I retrieved the ornaments the other day and realized they each have stories to tell. The first is from 1997. Before that we would buy our trees from a lot on High Ridge Road in Stamford (the first tree we bought together was when we were assigned to buy a fake one for the Greenwich Time office. We cut a deal at Caldor). In 1996, we tried Stew Leonard’s. The staff was endlessly patient, willing to slice open the bindings until we found one to our liking. I just couldn’t make them keep doing that (and as you learned from Lisa, I’ll never take the first one).

There are two gaps in our ornament collection. One was in 2005, when we cheated on Jones and tried another tree farm. It just wasn’t the same. I was so out of sorts I mistakenly put the tree backward atop the roof. Turns out that really is dangerous on a highway.

The second gap was in 2011, when we went to San Antonio to adopt The Kid. On Dec. 24, we brought him to a home without a Christmas tree. We got by with a toy Charlie Brown facsimile from a pharmacy.

I grew up with a fake tree during my childhood in New Rochelle, N.Y. It had three sizes of individual branches you had to poke into holes. It had one significant flaw. The larger bulbs of the era would melt the plastic branches. So much for artificial trees being safer.

We also learned the hard way that all trees do not weigh the same. The first stand Lisa and I owned was no match for Treezilla of 1998. We bought a bigger stand. Timber! We went for cast iron. Boom! The…



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