When I was growing up here in Franklin, my shallow little brain decided that anything store-bought was superior to anything homemade.
Ho-Hos and Ding Dongs were better lunchtime treats than homemake cookies.
Dresses from Cain-Sloan or Castner’s were preferable to those my mother made. (And don’t even get me started about the ones my grandmother would buy on her annual shopping trip to Marshall Fields.)
And having a Christmas tree shipped in from North Carolina and bought on the local lot was a status symbol ne plus ultra–especially compared to the lowly cedar which grows abundantly in these parts and which decorated many a farmhouse.
(Remember–this is my snotty little 10-year-old brain here–not anyone else’s.)
But these days, that’s all changed. And that brings me to yesterday.
I have a wondrously talented cousin who bought a fairly dilapidated 2o0 year-old stagecoach inn a few years ago. Over the years, she has lovingly restored it and now it is the perfect country home. And when I say country, I mean waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out in the country. As it should be.
Every year she has a great Christmas party for friends and family. Homemade eggnog. Homemade bean soup. Homemade desserts. Who knows–the spirits spiking the eggnog might be homemade too–just made at someone else’s home. (Are you seeing a theme here?)
One of the generous gestures that she makes is to allow her guests to cut their own Christmas tree from the cedars on her property. Most people don’t…but we have several times. Yesterday we threw our boots and gloves in the car, hitched up the trailer, and grabbed a saw before we left home. And, after eggnog and ham and soup and wine, we geared up and headed down to creek.
Eastern cedars grow along fence rows, at the bases of other trees and along creeks. The secret to finding the perfect Christmas cedar is finding one that’s off to itself. One that’s fully developed all around. So we wandered around, dodging cow patties, enjoying the fresh air.
The one we chose was near the creek, but isolated enough to have a great shape. And while no cedar will ever be as perfectly formed as a Frazier Fir or Scotch Pine, there’s just something organic about having a tree that grew up in the same neighborhood.
It’s home now…all decorated with lights and my favorite porcelain birds. And I guarantee you that it smells better than your tree–unless you have a cedar too.
I’m not big on putting out a lot of decorations. Truth be known, Osama bin Laden probably has more Christmas frippery than I do.
But honestly, if you have a twinkling tree, what else do you really need?