O h, how I love Christmas trees! My husband, a.k.a. Joe the Patient One, dreads going on a tree-hunting expedition with me — being a guy, he would choose the first decent looking tree and the hunt would be over in five minutes. My discerning eye spots tiny flaws, so I flit from tree to tree seriously pondering the pros and cons of each. It’s the Goldilocks and the Three Bears scenario as I find fault with one, then another. Finally we make our way homeward with another gorgeous tree, probably the very tree that Joe spotted in those first few minutes.
But I am a mere amateur when compared with some Christmas tree connoisseurs. My Godfather, Helge Erickson used to tell me about the importance of the Christmas tree in his family. Helge and his brothers would start their search for the perfect tree as soon as school got out in June. The boys would tramp around all of the forests close to Hoquiam as the quest continued. The brothers would argue the merits of various trees before finally tagging theirs. Then came months of visiting the tree to make sure that it was still healthy and the worry about someone else swooping in at the last minute. Tensions ran high until the day when it could finally be cut and brought home. The boys also gladly took on the task of cutting greens, bringing huge loads home until the entire basement floor was blanketed in cedar boughs. Almost every family living on his street were Scandinavians direct from the Old Country, and Helge was related to many of them. The dirt floored basement was the only place large enough to hold the entire clan, but it must have looked like a Finnish forest by the time the boys had finished decking the halls!
There have been a few Christmas tree disasters in my time, but the memory of them lends a dash of spice to my Christmas tree nostalgia. There was the year when I was squashed like a bug under an enormous fully decorated tree. This was in my life pre-Joe, and getting that huge tree into a tree stand had been a struggle which I thought I’d won. Hah! The tree waited until the last ornament was hung before crashing down on top of me. I crawled my way out from under and contemplated my choices. Hmm, nothing a block and tackle couldn’t cure. My body cushioned the fall, not many ornaments were lost. To this day we have a very large bolt in that corner, just in case another tree needs extra support.
One year I inadvertently locked a frisky kitten in the tree room. Well, that took care of my prized collection of glass ornaments. I found him the next morning curled up beneath the tree with a blissful look of smug satisfaction as he surveyed the scene of ornament carnage. Kittens have no sense of ornament awe, assuming that any Christmas tree must have been brought inside simply for their pleasure.
So we took the easy route to Christmas tree happiness this year. Michael and Jean Jones really love Christmas trees, and they have handpicked the best of the best for the Hoquiam Farmers Market. Fresh cut here in Hoquiam, you can find the perfect tree without having to tromp around the woods or a tree farm. Any size you want — the largest we have right now is a whopping 13 feet high! That’s a big tree. The one I chose is a stately eight footer, which might make the room feel a bit cramped, but I don’t care. As a child I would spend every evening lying beneath the Christmas tree listening to my favorite Christmas records over and over. And over. I wore out two copies of A Music Box Christmas!
The trees, the cookies, the music, and the love — those are the things that make the holidays shimmer. All the tinsel and sparkle of a spending frenzy at the mall can never compete with the joy of the young boys caught in the Great Depression as they created a wonderland of forest greenery for the celebrations shared with family and friends.
Barbara Bennett Parsons, manager of the Grays Harbor Farmers Market and Deidra’s Deli in Hoquiam. We have Spritz cookies, Sugar cookies, Pecan Tarts and more!