It’s not Christmas without the tree

Published 8:21 pm Monday, December 5, 2011

I wouldn’t call myself a Scrooge, but I don’t hide the fact that I think the Christmas season should start after Thanksgiving, not before.

Maybe it’s the fact that as a child, my grandparents would spend the Friday after Thanksgiving decorating the tree. Or maybe it’s because weren’t allowed to even think about when we would get our tree until it was December.

Either way, Christmas doesn’t begin for me until the tree goes up, and that’s definitely not supposed to happen until after we’ve stuffed ourselves silly with turkey and sweet potatoes.

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My mother, sister and I would head for the Christmas tree farm a half-mile from my mother’s house the first or second weekend in December. We’d take our time hunting for the perfect tree.

Then my mother would saw, while my sister and I held the tree up — a task that somehow always ended with us covered in more needles and sap than the tree itself even had. And I won’t even begin to describe how we managed to cram the tree into my mother’s 2-door sports car the year we didn’t have access to a truck.

But picking the tree isn’t even the best part.

My sister and I would spend hours untangling, testing and then stringing our lights. We’d carefully hang family ornaments, colorful balls and tasty candy canes, with my mom keeping watch so the tree wouldn’t appear lopsided.

Afterwards, I’d sneak downstairs after everyone had gone to sleep. I’d head for our tree and switch the lights on.

Sometimes I would catalog the ornaments, lit by the multicolored lights. I’d fall asleep awash in memories of making ornaments with school, church or Girl Scouts.

Most of the time I would read by tree-light, humming along with the wind-up drummer boy my mom always set up, even when he started getting chipped.

Let’s just say that most of my fond memories of Christmas revolve around the tree.

So it’s great to know that there are so many opportunities right here in Suffolk to hunt for your perfect tree.

There’s Santa’s Forest & Nursery, located on Carolina Road, where you can choose and cut your own tree. If thoughts of cutting down a tree with the first saw you’ve ever held makes you pause, you can also buy a selection of precut trees.

But, Christmas is also the season of giving. And I can think of no better way to celebrate the season than to buy a tree from a group who will use the profits to better our community.

There are plenty of opportunities for that in Suffolk, too.

From Solomons Builders on Wilroy Road, to the Knights of Columbus lot in front of Fire Mountain Restaurant on Main Street, to the Elks Lodge lot, located at 329 W. Constance Road, there are plenty of places to give back while finding your perfect tree.

Profits from Solomons Builders go towards Bible World Church, while the Elks Lodge and Knights of Columbus are raising money for their many community service projects.

Have fun hunting for the perfect Christmas tree, and don’t stay up too late reading by its lights.