Memories of Christmas trees past

Gary Kelley, Realtor –
[email protected]

By Gary L. Kelley, Realtor®

I’m typing this the end of November knowing Community Advocate’s Diane Sabatini will soon be reminding me it’s time to write my monthly article. We just had two closings, and in my world it’s a bit of a time to celebrate.  I’d like to celebrate with you.

In these articles I often talk about things to consider when buying or selling a house. I’m going to digress for a bit.

I grew up in a house with a Christmas tree. I respect everyone who didn’t have one; in my family we had a Christmas tree.

A family friend said we had the exact same tree every year.

Always red lights. Always silver tinsel. We had friends with the aluminum tree and the rotating color wheel and my parents never did one of those. It may have looked like the same tree year after year, but it was OUR tree.

We had the energy embargo of 1973 when my Dad reluctantly passed on outside lighting – and the tree remained the same. It was a little sad, and it was what we had to do.

Once I moved to Boston from Cleveland, the family connection was different. We “went home” every Thanksgiving and Christmas to see our family. And our traditions were changing. One year Dad lost his job, and money was tight. We went to a tree lot on Christmas Eve, and they simply gave us the display tree. My grandmother didn’t have a tree that same year. A club I was in set up a tree for an event and everyone brought an ornament to decorate. At the end of the event, the tree was going to be tossed having served its purpose for a few hours. We loaded it in the car with all its decorations and set it up at Grams.

As time went on, we started our own traditions. We did our own tree…and began accumulating decorations on trips and from discount stores. My wife’s family had little lights with some kind of fluid in them, and they “bubbled” all the time. I also discovered watering the tree is a daily requirement, and overwatering leads to a damaged floor.

We even tried a “living tree” one year. This is a tree where you dig a hole in November, bring in a real live tree with its root ball for two weeks (longer and you risk the tree becoming nondormant), and then in January plant the tree in the yard. HUGE amount of work and you end up with yard full of Christmas trees. And all this for two weeks’ enjoyment?

At one point we were camping in New Hampshire and the campground had a deal where each year you could get a Christmas tree. We went up one year with our little saw and high hopes of picking the perfect tree. We learned you had to pick the top of some 50-foot tree they would fell and then you got to cut off the top. Not quite what Norman Rockwell painted.

We then started going to Harvey’s Farm and Garden Center in Westborough where Emily and Jim Harvey would assure us their (named) trees were the absolute finest. Selfishly, I liked how you would get some apple cider as they wrapped the tree and strapped it to the car. The trees were great, the family feeling was better. The cider was warm and delicious.

Eventually, we shifted to an artificial tree. This helped those in the household who were allergic to real trees, and there were never any needles dropping to the ground. And it had a side benefit of not needing water, and not having water damage the hardwoods. The wonderful scent was gone. along with the fire hazard of a dried-out tree.

Now, my kids are out of the house. They are on their own. A few years ago I bought a very slender artificial tree at Harvey’s and Emily Harvey decorated it with lights and garland. It’s been up in my attic a couple years; it doesn’t make sense to me to get it out (it takes all of 30 minutes to set up) if I am going to be at my kids for Christmas with my grandkids.

Sad? Not at all. This is the evolution of Christmas trees in my family over the last 50 years or so.  Not once did I mention the home we were in, or the location. I’ve referenced the memories developed over the same time.

If you are wondering why you hold on to the house, ask yourself if what you really want are the memories. Similarly, if you are buying, think about the memories you want to accumulate.

It’s the memories we want. The experiences. Please enjoy the holiday season no matter what traditions you follow. In New England, we have a long dark winter. I enjoy the different festivals of lights, whether you call it Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas or even Festivus. Whatever your traditions or beliefs, simply enjoy. If you need advice on selling your home or buying a new one, give us a call.


Gary Kelley, Realtor®


[email protected]