Libby Baker Sweiger

Weaver of Everyday Tales

O Christmas Tree!

I love Christmas! To me it is a magical time of year. It always has been. The birth of baby Jesus — Savior of the world tops everything and is truly the reason for the season — but I’d like to talk about Christmas’ trappings for a bit. The little things that make a child’s Christmas never-to-be-forgotten. My dad was the master of Christmas magic! First of all we never went to a tree lot. From the time I was very young, old enough to walk through the snow and have dad carry Suzy on his shoulder we went out and chopped down our own tree.

Now maybe this was a common occurrence in those days for many people in rural Minnesota, but we were the only ones in our suburb carrying out this ritual. We had to drive a long distance to get to a tree farm. It was a long Dad Hike to find a tree worthy of our living room and decorations. It had to be magnificent! It was such an adventure every year. We waited with such anticipation and enjoyed every second of the day spent with my tall, handsome, knew-how-to-chop-down-a-tree dad!

We didn’t look at any of the little trees. They were not to be disturbed on the tree farm. We walked past them all until we found a tall one with a wider trunk. My dad knew the names of all the kinds of trees and just the kind we liked. Norway pines. They were a very pretty green and had long needles. They lasted a long time.

Finally our quest was over. My dad had spotted our tree! We ran over and found a good sized tree covered in snow. I held Suzy’s hand and we stood back. My dad took his ax out and started to chop down the tree. Now it’s a very easy matter to cut down a tree properly and push it the direction it should go when it’s time for it to topple. And my dad knew exactly how to do it. He would never risk knocking a tree over on one of his children, so it’s hard to imagine where they get this stuff they put in the movies. But I never felt any warnings of danger or mishap when my dad was around!

Soon Suzy and I were standing back further and Dad was giving the tree a nice little shove. TIMBER!!!!! We all yelled (the most fun part!) and down came our Christmas tree. Dad laid down parallel to the tree to measure 6 feet and then added a bit more in length for our living room. On cue Suzy and I followed suit and began making show angels. A small snowball fight and many giggles followed. Then back to the business of cutting the tree to the right length, tying a rope on the trunk and wrapping it around the branches so we could pull it back to the car.

When we got home after singing merrily in the car it was time for hot cocoa and Billy and Mom to join in the decorating after we untangled the lights and got the tree in it’s stand. Still my job to this day!

“Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all thirty feet tall.”
― Larry Wilde

Our Tree and Us

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11 thoughts on “O Christmas Tree!

  1. Memories will always dream of pink dust. Childhood moments are as pink clouds of spring, on the horizon clustered heap of cotton!

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  2. Denise on said:

    What a great childhood memory! No tree farms near us, but always went to twin square to visit Santa to give hom our list of 2 or 3 wants. Well until I recognize him, this gentleman will always be Santa to me!

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    • Libby Baker Sweiger on said:

      Those young family traditions are with is always aren’t they Denise? Wrapped around us like a warm cloak of memories and love!

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  3. Even though we live within a two hour drive of Tree Farms in most any direction, I never had been to one until I was twenty five. It was then that I realized what I had missed. Thanks for bringing it back Libby, you are so good at what you do.

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  4. Another wonderful,” put you smack dab in the middle of it all” adventure from a life so full! Lovely Libby when I was a child we always had a fake tree, but when John & I got married it was “OUR ” little family tradition!!! Was always so much fun & I am very blessed that we had my dad with & he videoed every CHOP! Soon our girls grew & didn’t think it was so much fun anymore!

    Keep them coming my dear friend I Love you more!

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    • I’m glad your family did this Mary and video’d! My daughter would have loved it to. Mike is wonderful, but not very outdoorsy. Also I developed allergies in my late twenties and eventually went with the artificial trees. We still had real ones when Abby was young though and I endured because I love them! Thanks for reading, Mare…Love you too!

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  5. Such a wonderful tradition!

    My siblings and I grew up with an artificial tree at home. However, we’d go to Grandma Nita’s for Christmas dinner and the rest of the day. There, Grandma greeted us at the door, accompanied by the familiar scents of the turkey, the fresh-baked cookies and a *real* pine. These days, I opt for the convenience that my parents did and still do, putting up an artificial tree. This story helps bring back the treasured smells of treasured times.

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  6. I’m glad Mark. It’s so good to remember the treasures found in the wonderful smells and pictures and memories of our youth. They are part of what shape us, aren’t they? Obviously you had a family that left you rich with warm memories! They are now yours to share. Thank you for your comments.

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  7. Libby, I love how your stories conjure up memories from my childhood. we always went to a tree lot to choose a tree. My parents now have an artificial tree, but I’m supremely fond of going out and cutting down our own tree. Next Christmas we’ll be home and I plan on chopping our tree again! =) Now to learn the types of trees like your dad did.

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