The Living Christmas tree. That is what we call one tree on the farm. Years ago, I think it was 1995, we were looking for Christmas gifts for my in-laws, Ed and Mary. They were a hard couple to buy for! We were in a nearby Big R store and found some little trees in quart sized containers. The pots were wrapped in foil, and there were a lot of different kinds. As I was looking through them, one caught my attention. It was labeled South Dakota spruce. Ed was from South Dakota and he spoke of his boyhood home often, so we bought the little tree. It came with instructions for planting it after the holidays were over.
Mary wasn't one for surprises - she was always so excited to tell people. My Husband is a little bit like her that way! We gave them the tree early. It was the perfect size for a table-top tree. It was trimmed with as many vintage ornaments as it could hold! Some sparkly garland, tinsel and a foil star finished it off. A colorful skirt was sewn to cover up the base of the tree and gifts were placed underneath. The little tree became quite a centerpiece.
After the New Year, the decorations were taken off. This left the little tree looking bare and plain. It was stuck in with the rest of Mary's large collection of houseplants. It blended into the background and got watered when everything else did. That spring, Ed took the little tree from the house and planted it the yard. No special thought to the location, just a "this-is-a-good-spot" moment! By itself, the little tree looked so small. The surrounding evergreens towered over it.
Ed tended to that tree. He watered it when the weather got hot and put fences around it when the grass grew and the deer and horses grazed too closely to it. We always kind of chuckled about the tree. We really couldn't believe that it was still living. A lot of things that are sold to be potted at a later date don't actually survive. This little tree did! And slowly it began to grow. For several years, the little tree stayed secure behind the wire remnant.
Mary passed away and Ed began to do less and less outside. I had taken over doing most of the yard work. One day I gave that little tree a close inspection. The branches had grown and were pressed up against the fencing. The grass around it had gotten so tall that it was entwined in the evergreen boughs. I removed the fencing and started pulling the grass. Once the area was clean, I stood back and was a little surprised. The tree was about five feet tall, bushy and healthy.
The last Christmas that Ed was living in his house, he wanted lights on the tree. He had found some of their old Christmas decorations and he trimmed the tree again. He went so far as to cut the top of it so that he could reach to put the star on. I thought the tree would be stunted. Again, I was surprised when it grew despite its top being cut off.
The farm chores became mine to do daily. The tree is now a landmark of sorts. I remember it as a table-top tree and looking so small in the yard. I also remember it with its stubby top. Over the last eighteen years, it has continued to grow and thrive. It stands out now, even with all of the evergreens around. I can no longer reach its top. It is our living Christmas tree.
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