You’ve all seen those movies where families bond over a wonderfully trimmed live Christmas tree. Mom, Dad, Junior, and lil’ sis smiling with candy canes, steaming cocoa mugs, and joy—pure, unadulterated Christmas joy—at the resplendence of the glistening bristleshrine. Alas, evergreen perfection is easily attainable in Hollywood.
I, however, grew up in Albany, Kentucky.
We got a live tree one year. I’m thinking it was the mid 80s—maybe 87.
So, even though we’d spent money on an artificial tree a couple of years before, we decided on a live tree. True Holiday nostalgia in a six-foot wooden case. Ah, the majesty that awaited.
My dad and I went out into the wild the day after that year’s Thanksgiving. Hatchet in hand, we snagged a perfect spruce-y specimen.
Faithfully, a month before Christmas, we brought that spectacular conifer home and secured it for decoration.
Secured it to two wooden planks.
Thirty days before Christmas.
Needless to say, when the bounty of presents succumbed to my greedy hands and wrapping paper filled the air and covered the carpet, the once-evergreen under which my presents had laid was brown…quite brown.
Quite brown. And quite dead. Quite crispy, as well.
The 80s, as I knew them, never seemed like Hollywood, Christmas movies or otherwise. I never owned a pastel Miami Vice sport jacket, nor did I, as I had seen kids on network sitcoms, sit down and discuss the finer points of life with anyone, much less anyone older than me. And Christmas, well, it always seemed a lot more like Ralphie Parker’s holiday season than the Waltons’.
Please understand: I’m not complaining. My parents did a heck of a job. Because life isn’t Hollywood, and branches do dry up, needles do get crispy, and trees do end up on the front lawn. At least that Christmas morning.
Nostalgia? Well, it is real inside of me, too, as with most folks, I’d assume. It’s just a different nostalgia, maybe a more realistic nostalgia, (perhaps a better nostalgia), and I’m pretty glad it is.