With Christmas almost a week away, the spirit of the holidays finally feels some what real.
My 12-year-old son is all about Christmas. As soon as the radio starts playing Christmas carols, he requests that channel as we drive throughout town.
I’m a staunch supporter of no Christmas music until Thanksgiving has had its moment. Once that has come to pass, I’m all about Christmas music. In fact, I’m fairly certain Evan wanted to disappear out of sheer embarrassment as I Car-Pool Karaoke’d to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” from Casstown to Troy the other afternoon.
It’s my favorite non-traditional Christmas tune (“O, Holy Night” is my Baptist-pew fave).
This week, the spirit of Christmas really sank in with the annual decorating of our tree.
It’s all about the ssssmmmmeeelll … it can’t be replicated.
Every year, my sister and I would tromp off to the Wat-A-Dog in New Carlisle to help my dad pick out “The Perfect Tree.” We’d also witness some good ol’ fashioned tree bargaining at the lot as well.
The annual tree selection tradition is now in the hands of my dad and Evan. It’s a hefty responsibility to please the head of the homesteads in terms of Christmas tree quality.
Call it a Christmas miracle, but I believe we finally found “The Perfect Tree” this year. And when I say we, I mean my dad and Evan. At only 12 years old, my son has inherited quite the Christmas Tree eye. It must be genetic.
In fact, he remembered which tree was ours and which one was Grandpa’s in the back of the Dodge. We definitely got the better tree out of the deal.
I always get nervous when my tree is placed on my front porch, waiting for its debut inside. This year, my dad had to trim the tree trunk to fit inside the stand. I get nervous with the power saw that close to the concrete. I always envision a “Tales from the E.R.” episode waiting to happen.
The hunt for the perfect Yingst Christmas tree goes back long before I was even born. It’s just something that’s in our DNA. My favorite is the story from my dad’s childhood of the time that my late grandfather brought home a less-than-spectacular spruce.
The tree was so bad, Norma Jean made my grandfather take it back to the lot they bought it from. And, in true Christmas fashion, he loaded it back up and took it back to the tree dealer and swapped it out for another.
Another legendary story was when we were little, we thought we had found the most perfect tree. It was bitterly cold that year, so Dad brought “The Perfect Tree” into his shop to trim it up and place it on the stand. We all had gathered around to watch the spirit of Christmas unfold. He leaned the tree against the shop wall as he prepared the hack off the stump and place it in the tree stand. As we stood there and waited, we watched the tree slowly slide off the wall … falling directly into a full bucket of used tractor oil.
It’s still one of our favorite stories to tell. The tree was power-washed with pink industrial soap before it finally made its way into the house. Looking back, it might have made more sense to just go and buy another tree, but Christmas makes us do crazy things. The fresh scent of pine was masked by faint tractor oil and soap that year, but the story will be treasured forever. I’m fairly certain my mother didn’t sleep well that Christmas, waiting for the smoke alarms to sound.
This week, Evan was put to work to decorate our tree, which has a lot of “Star Wars” and sheep ornaments this year.
I know I say this every year, but I just can’t help it. Teachers, thank you for taking the time to make ornaments. They are my favorite possessions on earth. I love seeing all the pictures and the handwriting evolve through the years.
They are like little pieces of time on display and they are so enjoyable to see every year.
Evan has been working on building the Lionel train set to train around the tree. So far it’s managed to wind its way through my living room and not around the evergreen, but it’ll be put together in due time.
Evan also had a grand time hiding the Christmas pickle in the tree.
I wonder who will find the Christmas pickle this year? We’ll find out on Christmas morning. Whoever finds the Christmas pickle will have good luck the year to come.
May the spirit of the season be with you!
“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. She’s glad she missed the whole Elf on the Shelf phenomenon.