Christmas tree tales….

Susan DetjensI have a particular passion for Christmas Trees.  We have had an odd assortment over the years.  Our first married Christmas tree, dubbed “Fat Alfred”, was almost wider than it was tall.  It managed to fall over twice, fully decorated.  When our children were very small, we went with their grandparents to cut down trees.  It was always the most frigid of days too.  And happy to report, we had gotten the hang of keeping them upright.  In Tokyo, we had short, skinny trees from Taiwan, costing the earth and dropping needles left and right.  In London, we were able to have our first tall trees and find real (lead) tinsel again.  Those trees did shimmer.

Choosing treesFast forward to our trees here at The Barns.  These come from Dr. A in Connecticut who has a discreet tree farm.  Discreet because the sign indicating the trees has to be the world’s smallest!  I am sure it is buried in last night’s 6” of snow.  There is a tree in every size, with some well on their way to vying for Rockefeller Center.

The Bride and The TreeThis year we have our whole family on the East Coast coming for Christmas so the tree needs to be the best yet.  We tagged the tree in the warmer weeks of November.  You can just see the striped ribbon on the right.  We definitely needed help this year, so the Bride and Groom came to our rescue.

The tree brigade at workTree cutting is best left to the deft hands of Dr. A, an orthopedic surgeon!  The tree chosen was about 20’ tall.  We left about 4’ as a stump and hauled it out of the grove.  Dr. A leaves one branch on the stump that will turn up vertically and become a new leader.

Tree driving carThree years ago, we chose a handsome 15’ tree and dragged it to my then new SUV only to discover it didn’t have a roof rack!  So we shoved it in the car and let it hang out the back with a red Trader Joe’s bag tied to the end.  Since then we have taken P’s smaller car with a rack.  Here we are back in Sheffield.

Thawing the treeThe tree was brought into the front hall so it could thaw out.  A secret to trimming a really tall tree is to do the first 4’-6’ while it is down.  Put it on a sawhorse and attach the topper, lights, garlands and ornaments using twist ties to hold them in place.  Then the tree can be manhandled into the stand.  Our stand is steel, heavy and wide.

The Groom and The TreeThe Groom is 6’4” so you can see we outdid ourselves this year.  However this photograph captures this tree’s 25 minutes of fame.  As we got ready to add more strands of lights, over it slowly fell!!  Thankfully we were all there to grab it.  Literally cutting our losses, the Groom hacked off 4’ from the bottom which we pitched off the deck.

B&G with shorter treeWe are just not cut out for DIY 16’ trees.  The tree was put back in the stand and after posing for the papparazzi, the B&G went home.

Handmade ornamentsWhat’s on your tree?  We started with only the ‘clay’ ornaments in the middle.  The ‘clay’ looked like the contents of the vacuum cleaner, mixed with water.  We ran out of wire for the hooks and stuck bobby pins in the top – that tells you how long ago it was.  The little girls came after the Bride was born – made with plaster of Paris bandages, fabrics and string for the hair.

Kids ornaments and souvenirsThere are the endearing ornaments made by our children, top, as well as those bought as travel souvenirs.  Left, a laser cut wood ornament from Germany and, right, miniature Japanese straw snow boots.

Lucky  birds nest for the treeEvery tree needs a bird’s nest for good luck.  We have always had one – they usually last a couple of years and then a new one is needed.

Merry Christmas TreeFinally it all comes together – and it is still standing, drinking thirstily!!




About Susan

Susan Detjens is a former landscape painter, she lectures, demonstrates and runs workshops on floral design for museums, horticultural organizations and garden clubs across the US.
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4 Responses to Christmas tree tales….

  1. Audrey Curl says:

    What a lovely narrative and beautiful tree, Susan! Merry Christmas!

  2. Alexandra says:

    Still bummed the big tree fell over. It was awesome!! This one looks beautiful all decorated.

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