“Let's get the Christmas tree tonight!” You and your wife have discussed this, but it should sound spontaneous to your three children. The right time to go is about two weeks before Christmas. If you go much earlier, the tree will dry out before Christmas; much later and what would be the point?
Visit several lots. Ask for the Douglas or Fraser firs; you’re not interested in the white pines. Walk around each tree, checking to be sure the trunk is straight. All trees look straight in the lot. Was that tree at the first lot fuller? Have your family run their hands over the needles to see if they are soft and springy. Shake it a little to see how many fall off. No one wants a repeat of The Tree That Was So Dead The Ornaments Fell Off and You Had To Take It Down The Day After Christmas And There Were Needles In the Carpet For Months.
Bring home the freshest, fullest, straightest tree, and leave it in the garage overnight so it can thaw. This was necessary during your Ohio childhood, perhaps not so much in Alabama. It's the principle though. Let the limbs fall out an additional day once you bring it inside.
Prepare something warm for the family to drink while decorating the tree. Play Christmas music -- The Temptations, Nat King Cole, Smokey Robinson. Set the spire on the top after all the ornaments have been placed. Admire the decorated tree. It's a little crooked. It's the prettiest tree you've ever had.
- This is second in a series of three Christmas entries by contributing editor Jacqueline Bryant Campbell