Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Once Upon A Time, Continued

The day came when Mr. Christmas Tree yearned for year round sunshine and orange groves and a Meyer lemon tree in his own backyard. He heard the siren call of surf fishing. His green thumbs wiggled in excitement at the thought of planting gardens not only in spring but in autumn too. He called his Councilors together and presented them with The Plan, the plan to migrate to Sunny Florida. His Councilor of the Household Keys agreed. She was a Sensible Woman and knew that Mr. Christmas Tree needed to expand his Horizons. His Counselor of Daughterhood agreed. She knew that a wardrobe of bikinis would be a lark. They bid two daughters' families farewell and kissed their third daughter goodbye in the halls of higher learning called College and moved far away to the Sunshine State.

Before he left, Mr. Christmas Tree turned over the Keys to the Magical Garden Center to Son-in-law and Son-in-law's Wise Elder Brother.

Son-in-law longed to become known as Mr. Christmas Tree himself. Had not he loved the Christmas Tree business from the first scent of essence of Canadian Balsam that flooded his nostrils when he accompanied his father-in-law to the railroad track where the large railroad car from Canada awaited only the railroad official's cutting of the seal to release the fragrance that could never be bottled?

Had he not spent hours in Avery County, North Carolina tagging Frazier Firs so that Customers would have prime Christmas trees? Served out his time as a Serf doing the lowly jobs such as cleaning out the garden center early in November to make way for the trees, building a flock room inside? Had he not learned from his father-in-law that a truly excellent flocked ChristmasTree could never be flocked in a tent but required a dry room, else it droop despairingly?

Had he not learned that the Customer is always right?

Had he not served out his serfdom hand-turning the Turntable for Mr. Christmas Tree to magically transform a tree from green to white, sometimes, rarely, even to blue?

Had he not bagged hundreds of Christmas trees?

Had he not at last been given the opportunity to use the magic Flock Machine himself?

Now the time had come to start up the Flock Machine for the first time himself in the wee hours of the morning. He took a deep breath, put on his mask, and began. He saw the White Christmas Trees in the showroom grow from two to three to four.

Suddenly, before he could believe his own eyes, and before the Wise Elder Brother could believe his, there appeared before them a Winter Wonderland of White Christmas Trees.

A tingle ran up the spine of the son-in-law as he saw the forest grow and felt himself becoming....
Mr. Christmas Tree!

The Wise Elder Brother felt himself becoming even Wiser.

The weather turned from sunny and warm to cold and drizzly inducing many Customers to venture forth for their Christmas Trees. Other Serfs now waited on the Ladies-in-Waiting who came from throughout the Kingdom to choose their Christmas trees while their Knights in Shining Armor warmed their hands outside by the Burn Barrel.

Hours were long and the bodies of Serfs and Wise Elder Brother and Mr. Christmas Tree grew tired.

But Wise Elder Brother and Mr. Christmas Tree's mother brought goodies from her kitchen for all to consume, and Christmas music played, and soon energy grew strong for another day.

Mr. Christmas Tree bravely, into the wee hours of the morning, climbed a 10-ft ladder to create a myriad of White Christmas Trees. For one tree he allowed the snow to fall lightly, green branches showing underneath.

For Snowdrift Trees the snow fell lightly on one side, much heavier on another side.

And there were wondrous Ice Trees where the snow fell lightly, then, while still wet, the branches were sprinkled with glittery diamonds from a bag labelled Mica Glitter.

The rarest tree of all, the most costly in the Kingdom, was the Candlestick Tree. It was so rare that it was camera shy; you must take Mr. Christmas Tree's solemn word that in every year's bounty of trees there would be one or two where the Pinecones grew proudly straight up, reaching for the sky, and shed their little Cone Petals. After their time on the Turntable with Mr. Christmas Tree they emerged appearing as if covered in Miniature Candles. It is reported that Emeralds changed hands for the purchase of such a Candlestick Tree.

Lest it be thought that only Aristocracy of the Kingdom were fortunate enough to procure a Christmas Tree from the Magical Garden Center, the two Brothers sought never to let a True Christmas Tree Lover leave without a Christmas Tree.

Congressmen, State Senators, Judges, and Mayors of the Kingdom made yearly visits to choose their trees. Floyd Crammer and Conway Twitty visited the Magical Garden Center for their Trees. The Man in Black himself, Mr. Johnny Cash, leaned his long body up against the Seed Bin while Sweet Miss June chose their yearly tree. But each year a Christmas Tree would find it way to the Schoolyard to become The Bird's Christmas Tree decorated by Schoolchildren, more would find their way into churches for Christmas Programs, and more found homes in Modest Houses of the Kingdom that lacked only a Christmas Tree for the Christmas Spirit to be complete.

Mr. Christmas Tree wishes to thank all of the Faithful Salesforce who were part of those wonderful years. And he wishes to thank his son Gurn who worked after school and on weekends at the Magic Garden Center as a Child Serf and actually sold this Pitiful Charlie Brown Christmas Tree......

Sold it for $25 to a very discerning Customer.

Your Storyteller attempted to include the following sweet memories from Mr. Christmas Tree's Only Daughter but could not do justice to her words. Therefore, here it is in her Own Words all the way from Sunny Florida:

I remember going to the garden center after school one day in the third grade and walking among what seemed like giant flocked Christmas trees, and Grandma saying, this one belonged to Mayor Fulton, that one to Conway Twitty, and feeling proud that my dad was the one they came to for the most perfect Christmas trees. Back then getting the right tree was like choosing the right piece of art for a special wall in your home. It had to be perfect, it HAD to be better than the year before! There were trees of every height sparkling in fresh soft white snow in every direction I looked. Christmas music was playing. I can still hear the soft ballad of Robert Goulet singing, "This Christmas I Spend With You" and getting goosebumps and butterflies while he sang. 

I can remember hearing customers saying, "Well, he's the best in town" and "He's expensive but worth every penny." Finally, I found Dad and he had on a funny dark green jumpsuit and a hat that covered his ears, and goggles on. I always ran to him knowing he would catch me in midair as I sprang into his arms. He said to me, "Look over there," pointing at little tiny trees against a wall. "Pick one." I pointed to one that reminded me of the perfect little tree in the animated Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer television movie special. "I'll bring it home," he said and he did, stringing lights on the branches, blue lights, ad then he flocked the tree to perfection on its own tiny tree stand. I remember Mom placing it on a chest in front of the big window in my bedroom. WOW! It was stunning!

Many times I've wished for Dad to be able to flock a tree for me again. I was putting up my own tree today, a 10' Frasier fir, listening to Christmas music on our cable seasonal music channel when that old but very familiar Robert Goulet song came on..."This Christmas I Spend With You." I found myself back in 1976 with butterflies in my stomach, wondering what magical memories will be made this year!

This is The End, but if you're wondering if there is still a Magical Garden Center, alas it is no more. In every fairy tale there has to be an ogre, and the Magical Garden Center, as did many other Mom & Pop garden centers, found it difficult to remain in business once ____ _____ and ______ moved into the Kingdom. However, bags of flock and the flocking equipment are somewhere in the barn. How we all wish for just one more tree from Mr. Christmas Tree. Perhaps there will be another story someday from the folks here at Valley View about Mr. Christmas Tree.

This post is lovingly dedicated to the memory of a lovely lady who now celebrates
Christmas with the King.


  1. What a beautiful story of memories! Thank you for sharing. I don't think I'll look at Christmas trees quite the same again. Have a wonderful week ahead Dewena!

    1. Thank you so much, Lottie! It was a lovely business to be in at that time. Part of the good times for R.H. was getting to know so many wonderful nurserymen who would have given you the shirt off their back. You have a lovely week, too!

  2. Oh, Deweena, what wonderful memories you have!

    1. They are, Mary Ann. It has meant a lot to our entire family to go back in time while we were compiling the pictures and memories for this story. Not that we weren't like all families in that we had our troubles and heartaches too. How much better though to dust off the happy memories to think about.

  3. Wow mom, I almost feel like I was back there wondering around the trees and helping out again. Magical days they were.

    1. I must brag on our son here! He spent hours yesterday scrubbing down our front porch and porch furniture for me. Then more time putting up lights and gathering stuff from the barn and smokehouse after I showed him pictures from a couple of blogs that inspired me with their front porches. It was so much fun, going out every hour and seeing what he accomplished. And then to step outside in the front garden last night and look up to the porch at what Gurn created. Thank you so much for helping your mother who was feeling so behind schedule!

  4. What a beautiful and moving story.
    Thank you.

    1. That's so nice of you, Ellie! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks so much for visiting.

  5. Dewena, I'm glad I missed part one of this story, because I'm afraid I would have been miserable, waiting on the second installment. Such a beautifully told story, and such touching and wonderful memories. Ialso loved the photographs ~ all the little girls with the Christmas tree and the photographs of those gorgeous flocked trees and their creators. It all tugged at my heart. Thank you for sharing these memories. laurie

    1. Thank you, Laurie! I am so happy that you enjoyed both the stories and the photographs. All of us girls have talked about how we ought to put together our Christmas memories because each of us knows things the others have forgotten. One of the things I think only Deb and I remember is the years we would find notes tied to the branches, usually from someone who had cut the tree, but one special one was from a little girl our age in Canada whose father owned the Christmas tree farm. Her note was wrapped in wax paper and tied with colored ribbon and gave her address. I remember that Daddy had us write her back but cannot remember if she ever answered our letter. And there were years there were bird nests in the trees, which we would always leave. Happy memories indeed! I'm thinking about you this week, with your granddaughters there to help you as you care for them.

  6. Wow! Really nice story telling Mom. It is so fun to read these fascinating details. I don't think I knew about Johnny Cash buying trees from Dad. It's cool how famous people still to this day do business with Dad. His high standards for workmanship is hard to find these days. Looking forward to seeing you guys soon.

    1. Hello, Defee! Yes, not only Christmas trees but June loved roses and sent her gardener in with lists of roses she wanted. Grandma Callis always helped him with the roses. And June's mother, Mama Maybelle Carter bought many a Christmas tree from them also, as did Eddie Arnold, Bobby Bare, Little Jimmy Dickens, Roy Acuff, and Earl Scruggs. All good-hearted people, salt of the earth men and women. Yes, many of the country music stars still do business with us as they know they can trust us not to take pictures while working there, as well as knowing, like you said, that your father has high standards. And every one of you kids learned your work ethic from him.

      Can't wait until Christmas to hold my granddaughter again!

  7. Loved the story so beautiful!! Those trees do look perfect!! Our family would also buy real trees every year! The smell of fresh trees is out of this world! Your dad sounds like he was a really nice hard working man! sweet memories!!!

  8. Thank you, Marissa; sometimes we talk about an artificial tree for our main tree but that fresh scent is hard to give up. And we would not have room to store anything else in our attic! The one nice thing about one would be getting to put it up early and not worry about it drying out and shedding. They do make beautiful ones now.

  9. What a beautiful written story. A legend you will always have!


  10. Thank you so much, Judy! Yes, it's nice to get them written down. How I wish I remembered more of the stories my grandparents and aunts and uncles told me.

  11. Dewena, I never go back to the comments section of a post I've already commented on, so I haven't seen your replys to my comments. I love the tidbit about the notes on the trees. laurie


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