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A View From The Attic

Week of 12/23/2013

Fremont County Historical Society


by Lona Lewis

Christmas can begin at my house because the tree is finally up.   The LED lights twinkle and the soft needles of the Fraser Fir add a wonderful aroma to the house.   Favorite ornaments remind me of places I have traveled.   One  says to Mom and Dad.   It reminds me of the years  we trooped to a tree farm when our son was young.

I started thinking  about all of the trees before this one and the Christmas trees past of my family.  My Mom was the thirteenth of  fourteen in a Midwest family.  She would tell about her Dad going out and picking out a cedar growing wild.  She talked about  popcorn being strung on a string and wrapped around the tree. 

Even when I was a little girl the mid 1900s, my Dad would occasionally cut down a cedar.
   They were always beautiful trees but my sister and I had to be so careful not to touch them.  If we did, not only did it hurt, but we were picking out of our skin the little barbs that stuck and hurt.

We still used the popcorn strings but cranberries had been added for color.  We also had this tinsel that looked like a rope that we wrapped around the tree.  The ornaments were all solid colors with the only variety being different colors.  The lights were the bubble lights. They looked like candles and the alcohol in them would bubble as it they were boiling.  We had to be careful not to let the lights touch anything that might burn.  To add the sparkle, we covered the tree with the icicle made of tin foil.

Real trees were the only game in town when I was young.  No one thought a thing about going to the store and buying a tree that was dried out with needles that were brittle.  I would occasionally hear some one talk about how the trees  were cut down in the summer and  put in ponds to store until they were sold at Christmas.

Artificial trees changed everything about thirty years agoRemember the metal tree that had a color disk below?    You would turn on a light, the disk would rotate and the tree would change colors. 

We stayed true to the real Christmas tree by buying fresh trees at a tree farm where our choice was a scotch pine.

Artificial trees wreaked havoc on the real tree marketThe result being tree farms closing all over the country.   I remember once driving through Montana  in the mid 1980s and seeing thousands of trees being  burned because the growers had lost their market.

Eventually, a balance was created between the real and fake trees.   Today, we own Horse Creek Christmas tree Farm and like our fellow growers have plenty of business.  Each year we have customers who say they dumped their artificial tree.   One reason is the trees being grown are changing to fir trees that  stay soft with very few needle in the carpet.   A far cry  from the prickly cedar of my youth.