Christmas tree’s purchase a landmark

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 9, 1999

I reached a landmark in my young adult life last weekend: I bought my own Christmas tree.

I admit I never thought I would have one that is flame-retardant, but it’s my own tree.

For the first time this year, Christmas will be at my house.

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My parents, sister and grandfather are coming to spend the holiday in Natchez, so this will be the tree that greets us on Christmas morning.

It’s a little skinny, but at least it doesn’t droop over like Charlie Brown’s tree in my favorite TV Christmas special.

In fact, it’s taller than I am, although that isn’t saying much.

But when it came to decorating it, there was something missing.

Like the blue construction paper angel with a misshapen, crayoned face that has somehow survived three different attics to grace my parents’ tree every year since I was in nursery school.

Or the gold-painted paper cup decorated with wagon wheel pasta shapes – an &uot;abstract&uot; piece that’s a product of my brother’s lack of interest in arts and crafts when he was in kindergarten.

Or the fragile glass balls and wooden angels gathered on my family’s trip overseas in the years just before and after I was born.

On my tree, instead of where the macaroni angels and glitter-speckled Santas should be, there are shiny silver balls and tiny white lights.

It’s tasteful (as long as you forget about the flame-retardant part), but it still seems to lack something for me.

When I was little decorating the Christmas tree was a big event.

We usually had to wait until what seemed like &uot;the last minute&uot; so that my dad could get a good deal on a real tree at a lot near our house.

For my parents, I guess the entire episode was somewhat of a chore – especially trying to get it to stand up straight.

What often started out as a tall tree would somehow wind up in the house a lot shorter than we expected, since my dad would saw off half the trunk to fit it into the tree stand.

Sometimes they simply had to get innovative, like by tying the top of the tree to one of the beams that crossed the ceiling of our living room.

There were a number of years that I think the tree would have literally swung from the ceiling if we had just taken the stand away.

Some years the trees were fat and short, sometimes tall and skinny. Sometimes waiting until &uot;the last minute&uot; meant we had a tree that was a little misshapen.

My dad would just say we’d turn the bare spot to the wall and not worry about it.

(I have a vague memory which I hope isn’t true of thinking a &uot;bare spot&uot; was where a bear had tried to climb our tree back when it was in the woods.)

And since we were lucky and blessed, eventually the tree was always surrounded by boxes and packages of all shapes and sizes, some that shook well and some that didn’t.

This year the spot beneath my tree is a little bare – I have gifts waiting for wrapping paper and gifts waiting to be bought.

But even if the shopping was done, the Christmas cards were mailed (or even written) and the wreath was hanging on my door, it wouldn’t be Christmas.

Because I’m pretty sure it won’t seem quite like Christmas until my family arrives.

Kerry Whipple is a senior staff writer at The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached by calling 446-5172, ext. 262, or by e-mail at