When I was very young, my family had real trees in the house at Christmas. I remember the smell of spruce and fir, as much a part of Christmas as the presents, the decorations, and the tree itself.
Sometime in the mid 1960s, when I was about 10 years old, my parents decided to get with the times and buy an artificial Christmas tree. Not just any artificial Christmas tree, but an artificial tree with white needles.
The tree was similar to the more familiar aluminum Christmas trees. But it was white. And plastic.
I don’t remember if I was more confused or excited by the concept but, because the tree was plastic, we couldn’t use our usual Christmas lights on the tree. The tree simply would have melted with the heat of the bulbs. Instead, my parents bought a light wheel. The exciting part was that my parents asked me to assemble the light wheel, which I did with gusto, having something of an aptitude for taking things apart and putting them back together.
There really wasn’t much to assemble, but I did it by myself, and that’s what really mattered. The wheel included four colored panels, behind which burned a bright, white bulb. In my mind, I can still hear the whirring of the motor as the wheel turned, spraying an array of colors on the tree and around the room - now blue - now red - now green - now yellow.
We assembled the white plastic tree year after year until it was finally too old, broken, and sad looking to use any longer. Its replacement, again artificial, was a lifelike green tree, upon which we once again strung traditional lights.
But of all the Christmas trees my family had over the years, none brings back such vivid memories of Happy Christmases as the Great White Christmas Tree.
Written for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Day 1.
Copyright © 2007 by Stephen J. Danko