My first Christmas tree

By Fremont Books

When I was five years old, I went with my father when he selected and cut a small fir tree — one of several competing for existence in a hilly corner of the pasture between our home and the graveled road that ran past it.
When we took it home he made a cross of two wide boards and spiked them to the bottom of the tree so it could upright. Then he placed gift-wrapped Christmas presents on the crossed flat boards to insure greater stability. This was important because in those days country, and many town homes, did not have electricity.
Instead Christmas trees were lighted by small candles in clip-on holders that were placed on the outer limits of protruding limbs because Christmas tree needles were highly flammable, and once set on fire, the entire tree would burst into flames at once.
In fact, at that time there were always reports of houses being burned from Christmas tree accidents. Even the opening of a door could sometimes let in a puff of air to sway the flames of a candle far enough astray to light a neighboring Christmas tree needle.
Most of us have at one time or another witnessed the ceremonial burning of Christmas trees after the holidays, so you can visualize the destruction caused by a fire like that in a wooden house with only the drinking bucket of water in the house at hand to put it out. So we did have a few candles we never lit.
We had a glass star for the top of the tree and a few glass ornaments. My older sister strung garlands of popped corn and red and blue Indian corn to further enhance the tree.
When I asked my older sister why we were doing all this she told me it was meant to attract Santa Claus.
That explanation was a bit fuzzy to me because I was beginning to wonder about that Santa who could go down the dirtiest old sooty chimney and still keep the white trim on his clothes still a spotless white. Then when I went to school I found that my classmates 1laughed at me when they found out that I still believed in Santa Claus.
I believe in him now and have even started to imitate his behavior role once a year.

Fremont Books is a retired antiques dealer and local historian. He was born Feb. 27, 1914.