O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum,
wie treu sind deine Blätter.
Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit,
Nein auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
wie treu sind deine Blätter.
Lyrics: Ernst Anschütz, 1824
Melody: Volksweise (traditional)
My dad, when asked, always maintained that his favorite Christmas carol was O Tannenbaum, or better known to us as O Christmas Tree. That particular carol has never done much for me, I will admit. It doesn’t speak about the birth of Christ, but I don’t hold that against it. It just isn’t snappy enough for my taste. Not like I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas (Only a Hippopotamus Will Do). But I guess if you are of Swiss descent and heard your mom and dad speaking that language as you grew up, you would be a bit nostalgic about a song with German ties.
Here’s what I do know, however: Christmas trees were always a big part of our holiday tradition.
My siblings might be able to correct me, but I don’t think Mom and Dad had a fake Christmas tree the entire time that they had kids at home. And longer than that, I believe. We didn’t go traipsing out into the country with an ax and cut down a tree. We weren’t the tree-cutting-down type. But we did have a family tradition of going to Earl’s Garden Center in Columbus and picking out a big Christmas tree that would then be delivered to our house.
In my early years, we decorated the tree with colored lights and tinsel and ornaments collected throughout the years. At some point when we were all a bit older, Mom and Dad began to get their Christmas tree flocked; that is, sprayed with some sort of chemical that looked like snow, (and probably caused cancer). At that point, we began accenting the tree in red, heavy on the candy canes. I’m pretty sure that tradition stopped when they picked up and moved to Colorado. But they still had a live tree.
I don’t have a live tree. In fact, as the years have gone by, my trees have decreased in number and size. I used to have big trees in the family room, the living room, and the kitchen (decorated with cooking-related ornaments). But since we leave for AZ on Christmas, we make it easy on ourselves and just put up a small tree in the living room (for my angels) and a really small tree in our family room, so we can enjoy the lights…..
When Court was a baby, however, we always had a live tree. The Christmas after I became single, I was determined to keep up traditions for Court’s sake. Court and I went and picked out a live Christmas tree. I then had to struggle to get it home, drag it inside, and try (unsuccessfully) to saw the bottom off of the tree. By this time I was crying real tears and poor 5-year-old Court was looking forlorn. So much for keeping up every single tradition. From then on, it was a fake tree for this girl.
The Christmas trees they are selling at my nearby grocery store are becoming fewer and fewer. The other day I saw someone driving a car with a tree on top, and it looked like a Christmas card. It made me smile.
Here’s my favorite Christmas tree story: When Court was a toddler — maybe 3 years old — we were at my dad and mom’s house in Frisco, CO. Nestled among the ornaments of their Christmas tree were numerous candy canes. Court was instructed NOT TO TOUCH THOSE CANDY CANES. Later that evening, I spotted him, hands to his sides, leaning over and licking one of the candy canes that hung on the tree. He was technically following the rules — he wasn’t “touching” the candy canes. 3-year-old logic. He was following the spirit of the law. The Christmas spirit, that is.
Dad, I hope you are singing a chorus of O Tannenbaum with Grammie and Gramps in heaven.