Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 1

(This is post 1 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Geneabloggers.com)

Prompt: December 1 - The Christmas Tree
Did you have a real tree or was it artificial? How big was the tree? Who decorated the tree? What types of Christmas trees did your ancestors have?

The picture to the left is pretty typical of the trees I remember having while growing up. That's my mom, Geraldine Guokas Pape, with hers and my dad's 1956 tree in Evanston, Illinois. Mom is pregnant with me. This tree looks especially tall; it appears to be higher than the beam or soffit just in front of it.

Here's a photo (below right), also in Evanston, of me (Amanda Pape) in front of my first Christmas tree, 1957:

Growing up in Houston, Texas, we had trees like these purchased from the Christmas tree lots that sprang up on shopping center parking lots around town. We usually got a Douglas fir. They were always real trees, and not flocked. They were always at least 7 feet tall; taller than my dad, but short enough to fit in the typical 60s-70s suburban home with 8-foot ceilings.

The entire family helped decorate it. I do recall that I was (and still am) one of the few to painstakingly, artfully drape those foil icicles on the branches, carefully making them even. I think my younger siblings pretty much left the icicles to me and my parents. A tinsel garland was added to the tree in later years. Here (below left) is my dad, Frederick Pape, and my siblings (counterclockwise from Dad, Mark, Mary, Brian and Karen) decorating our 1970 tree in Houston:

My first tree once I was out on my own, in my own apartment (in 1979 in Corpus Christi, Texas), was a Norfolk Island pine, but I later reverted to the family tradition. More about that in a later post.

For a couple of years when my son, Eric Bolme, was little, we had living trees that we could put on a tabletop and later plant in the yard. We were living in the Seattle area at the time and I believe these were Douglas firs too. Here (below right) is me and Eric decorating a tree in 1988 when Eric was about two and a half:

As he got older, we started going to the numerous Christmas tree farms north and east of Seattle to cut our own trees, again, usually Douglas firs (because they were less expensive). Many of the farms offered warm cider or hot chocolate and sometimes a hayride.

Since moving to Granbury, Texas, in 2006, Eric and I have continued the tradition of cutting a tree at the 4D-Farm north of Weatherford. We particularly like their "Blue Ice" Arizona Cypress (Cupressus glabra) "with soft silver blue to blue-green needles. Its trunk is also colorful, with copper-colored mottling." Now that Eric is six-and-a-half feet tall, it's sometimes hard here in Texas to find trees that are taller than him:

Finally, below is a picture of my husband, Mark Gresham, with his family's Christmas tree in 1942. They were living in either Corpus Christi, Texas, or Washington, DC, at that time. From what I can see in the picture, it looks like Mark grew up with the same kind of Christmas trees I did.

I don't know a lot about the Christmas trees my ancestors had, sad to say. I'll have to ask my parents about that and hopefully add more to this post later.

© Amanda Pape - 2009

1 comment:

  1. Very cool! Thanks for sharing your family's history as told though Texas Christmas trees. :)