This story is from the late 40’s or early 50’s. I’m guessing that the Christmas trees we saw being sold on corner lots didn’t come from tree farms, but instead were logged and bundled by folks trying to make a bit of money in the off season, collected from woodlots and then sorted according to value and size.
We didn’t have much money, so when Dad and I chose a tree we couldn’t afford to buy the ones that were full and bushy. Ours wasn’t Charlie-Brown scrawny, but definitely something less than perfect. And Dad liked perfection. The finished Christmas tree had to be just so. He taught me to fasten many of the lights close to the trunk so that the tree had an interior glow. He insisted that the ornaments look balanced, all parts of the tree equally filled, and that the size should progress from small at the top to the largest ones at the bottom. And he made sure that the back of the tree looked as good as the front.
But how to achieve this perfection with a tree that had branches growing irregularly from its trunk? What to do about the gaps?
Dad had a solution. Don’t dads always have the solutions? At the tree lot, he asked the seller if he could take some of the extra branches that were always scattered around and use them for decoration. Sometimes he had to pay a quarter for the extras. Then, when our tree was in its stand in the living room, he’d have my mother hold it in place while he drilled holes in the bare areas of the trunk. And then he inserted those extra branches in the holes! How did he get those random branches to match the bare spots? How did he get them to stay in? I have a faint memory that he may have wired them in, but I’m not sure. As a kid, I was so impressed with the result that I didn’t much notice the process. All I knew was that once again we had the most beautiful tree!