O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree

Christmas is not really about the tree. It’s about the people that surround the tree – and “home” is wherever you feel loved.

December 19, 2013 | | Two Blue Boots

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!
In beauty green will always grow
Through summer sun and winter snow.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!
Author Unknown

As I sit and reminisce about the variety of Christmas trees that have crossed our many thresholds over the years, I find my eyes growing misty with memory.

Come along with me as I lead you on sentimental journey. Let’s travel back in time while I share a haphazard chronology of the annual May Family Christmas tree.

Year: 1982   Location: Our first apartment – pre-children

Our miniature plastic tree is adequately adorned with twelve red bows and is gracing our coffee table. It is all we can afford and it is all we need.

Years: 1983-1987   Location: Our first small house – one baby and one toddler

This tiny home witnesses the arrival of two boys. My husband Darrel makes an annual trip to the neighbourhood gas station to pick up a twine-wrapped tree. Decorations consist of paper plate ornaments with globs of glitter, candy canes with glued-on googly eyes , reindeer made from clothespins, and cones with pipe-cleaner handles.

Year: 1988-1992   Location: Our first large house – two small boys

We indulge in a suburban tradition and we drive up north to the Extravaganza Christmas Tree Farm. We feast on treats around a huge bonfire – hot cider and decadent shortbread.  We stand in a long line so that Ryan and Codey can enjoy a slow ride in a small cart being pulled by a large dog. I tour the enormous gift shop and feel compelled to purchase several seasonal (though unnecessary) items. As we prepare to depart, we realize that we’ve forgotten to purchase a tree from the wondrous tree display. We weigh the pros and cons of the 22 available varieties and eventually choose a favourite. We drive homeward. We are full of the Christmas spirit; however, our wallets are empty. This Christmas tree experience has cost us a total of $243.78.

1992 to 2005   Location: A rustic century home near Mansfield Ontario – two growing boys, one golden retriever, and one cat

We discover that rural families do not generally buy trees from the local gas station. They do not go to the Extravaganza Christmas Tree Farm. We learn that tree shopping is a full-day event—involving a drive to a small local tree farm. A toboggan (containing two laughing boys and a barking golden retriever) is pulled by father Darrel to the farthest tree in the field. We choose and chop our own glorious tree. Victorious and buoyant, we enjoy hot chocolate and sugar cookies in a tiny hut. This rosy-cheeked scenario becomes our family tradition for the next several years.

2005-2008   Location:  A brick bungalow on four acres in the Town of Mono – two teenagers, two golden retrievers, two cats, one rabbit – and a partridge in a pear tree…

The annual Christmas tree hunt has lost its magic. The kids are more concerned about what is under the tree than how it is acquired and adorned. The Christmas tree purchase becomes one more chore.

I delegate the annual tree purchase to 17-year-old Codey. With all of the goodwill I can muster, I hand him $50 and insist that he leave the house and return with a tree. I busy myself with cleaning and cooking and a trip into town.  I return, laden with parcels, and Codey calls me into the living room to show me the May Family Christmas Tree. It is truly a sight to behold – completely decorated – resplendent with tiny sparking lights, complete with a large silver star perfectly perched upon the highest bow. I am speechless. Somewhere I can hear a choir singing. My heart is filled with Christmas joy!

The joy quickly dissipates when (days later) we notice an oddly mutilated tree in our yard. We discover that Codey did not actually purchase our magical tree. The truth is that he retrieved a ladder and a bucksaw from the garage and proceeded to saw the top from a 20-foot blue spruce – one that had been planted as part of a professional landscaping plan. It turns out he pocketed the 50 bucks!

Christmas Collage

2009-2012   Location: Empty nest in the Town of Mono One old golden retriever, one crazy cat

The Family is home for Christmas. A singing, dancing, ho-ho-ho-ing, life-sized Santa replaces the traditional evergreen tree. Santa is amusing and jolly for the first 15 minutes. His festive yet fake voice slowly becomes a source of irritation. His gyrating hips and flailing arms begin to annoy us. Echoes of “shut that thing off” and “pull the plug” fill the room.

2013   Location: Town of Mono – one old golden retriever, one crazy cat, and one “No-No Bad Dog” golden lab

A plastic tree with 12 red bows adorns our coffee table. It would seem that the evolution of the May Family Christmas Tree has come full circle – except the reason for the no-fuss tree is because this Christmas the entire extended family will be spending Christmas day in Costa Rica. This will be the first Christmas we have not been “home” for the holidays. Our family will gather around a palm tree, or perhaps a fig, mango or almond tree.  But, most importantly, we will be together.

I hope you have enjoyed coming on this little trip down memory lane with me. When you think about it, Christmas is not really about the tree. It’s about the people that surround the tree – and  “home” is wherever you feel loved.

May your tree be surrounded with special people and may your home be filled with happiness this holiday season.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, from the May house to your house.

Do you have a Christmas Tree story to share?

About the Author More by Laurie May

Laurie teaches Grade 4 at Island Lake Public School in Orangeville and writes in her spare time. She lives in Mono and looks for the humour in everyday country life. Check out her blog “Two Blue Boots”.



  1. We were part of the Extravaganza You Know What. It may have even been our large dog pulling the boys around. It was part of our family tradition until later teen years struck and our lovely dog departed. We bought our first country trees there but then, feeling true to our roots, we scoured the back ten acres, choosing just the right foliage to adorn our room. Time has definitely passed as witnessed by the now twenty foot trees that used to be just the right size. We are older and wiser (maybe) and weaker. No more struggling a tree through the sliding doors that always stick. Our tree reposes in a box under the stairs in the basement. It is light and easy to make stand straight. The same horse decorations adorn the branches with a few ancestral memories. This year, my sister visited for the first time at Christmas. She thought the tree was real. That was a purely satisfying moment as I can continue to pretend it is just a tree from the back yard over the fence.

    SUSAN TROWBRIDGE on Jan 7, 2014 at 3:53 pm | Reply

    • Thanks for sharing your stories, Susan. Now I know how Codey learned how to be such a con-man. It must have been your influence. Hee Hee.

      Laurie May from Mono on Jan 9, 2014 at 11:33 am | Reply

  2. Laurie I love the story about Codey’s Xmas tree acquisition – I say he has a very creative, resourceful, and entrepreneurial spirit… but where on earth did he get it from??? Thanks for sharing your story and making us laugh… Enjoy your new Xmas adventure in Costa Rica!

    Denise on Dec 21, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Reply

    • Thanks Denise. I have a feeling that “Codey’s Christmas Tree” tale will likely become part of our family folklore – told and re-told – passed on to future generations.

      Laurie May from Mono on Dec 29, 2013 at 11:56 am | Reply

  3. My earliest Christmas tree memory is from when I was about six years old. Laurie would have been eight.

    The Christmas tree was in the basement of our house decorated with many very pretty glass ornaments. The tree was standing right beside the stairs. I walked half way down the stairs and then stopped and reached out over the banister to play with one of the ornaments. Unfortunately I lost my balance and fell – HEAD FIRST – right into the Christmas tree. I landed with a thud on the basement floor with pieces of glass stuck in my legs.

    Now I don’t have perfect recall as to Laurie’s involvement in this incident but I have a vague recollection of her pointing the very pretty ornament out to me and then snickering as I tumbled over the bannister and onto the tree.

    Happy Holidays to All.


    Diane from Toronto on Dec 20, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Reply

  4. Have a wonderful trip to Costa Rica. Love your blogs- very funny and creative. Hopefully Codey doesn’t climb up a mango tree to get the top 20′ down to decorate it!

    Kassie from Guelph on Dec 20, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Reply

    • Hi Kassie: Thanks for being such a loyal reader! Codey was on very good behaviour during our holiday. 🙂

      Laurie May from Mono on Dec 29, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Reply

  5. Hi Joy: Thanks for sharing. You and your daughter must have been a rather comic pair. I guess you didn’t read the Tree Farm memo on proper attire. The funny experiences make the best memories.

    Laurie May from Mono on Dec 20, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Reply

  6. A great story,Laurie. Now I’m thinking about my trees and the time my daughter and I left the city in cowboy boots to cut a tree. Much slipping and falling in the snow. Enjoy the sun!

    Joy Gaskin on Dec 20, 2013 at 9:16 am | Reply

  7. What a wonderful story Laurie ! 🙂

    Samantha on Dec 20, 2013 at 7:35 am | Reply

  8. Laurie, What an amazing trip down memory lane! I have to give credit to Codey and his special Christmas Tree story! His creativity definitely made me laugh!! I can’t wait to hear of the adventure of Christmas in Costa Rica this year! Enjoy the change! Its nice to see your new Christmas Tree looks like the one you and Darrel had originally and how it has come full circle! I love your blog!!! hugs

    Chrysty Newman on Dec 19, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Reply

    • Thanks, Chrysty,
      We are still not sure if Codey was showing entrepreneurial talent or some kind of “con-man” ability—perhaps a little of each.

      Laurie May from Mono on Dec 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Reply

  9. thanks for the memories. YOU ARE SO RIGHT christmas is all about being together at this special time.

    LARRY AND NORMA GEE on Dec 19, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Reply

    • Exactly—-the way that we have never let (my sister) Diane forget about the time that she jumped from the stair-case onto the Christmas Tree–knocking it to the ground–and then proceeded to scream dramatically, while flailing upon the broken glass and pine needles. She still maintains that she fell onto the tree.

      Laurie May from Mono on Dec 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Reply

  10. Nice post brings it brings back many memories for me as well !

    Darrel from Mono on Dec 19, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Reply

    • Yes….lots of good memories! You’ll notice that I didn’t include the story about the year we put up an artificial tree. When the holidays were over, you and the boys said that you’d “take it down” and you did. You somehow managed to get it down to the basement with all of the ornaments, lights and tinsel still on it! You put a large tree bag over it and you told me that it was “all ready for next year”. When I found out what you had done, I didn’t know what to think. I wasn’t sure if that was a really dumb idea—or a really clever one!

      Laurie May from Mono on Dec 20, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Reply

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