Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree

    “Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree… how lovely are your branches….”

    When I was a kid, my family always had the biggest tree decked out with tinsel, etc. My mother, the person responsible for instilling in me a Clark Griswold love of Christmas, would give each of us kids an ornament every year to add to the tree. The ornament typically represented a significant event in our lives that year. For example, I have an ornament I received on my sixth Christmas of a little boy holding skis with a cast on his leg. That’s the year I broke my leg skiing.

    My dad was always in charge of stringing the lights and perching the angel on top of the tree.Also, as a professional musician, he would lead us in carols as we decorated.

    These days, I’m the parent who is charged with instilling in my children the glory of Christmas. And, what better symbol to do this than with a perfect Christmas tree?

    In years’ past, I’ve gone the traditional route and packed the family into the Subaru and headed out to a local Portland Christmas tree farm such as Quail Creek Ranch Christmas Trees (an outstanding family run farm in NW Portland) or Cornell Farm (a gorgeous, copiously stocked nursery in SW Portland) to grab that perfect Spruce, Noble or Douglas Fir.

    This year my wife, who continues be obsessed with Pinterest, had this crazy idea (since we were not going to be in Portland for Christmas) of forgoing a tree and stringing up lights on the wall in the shape of a tree, and using hooks to hang our plethora of ornaments. While this idea was originally met with contempt from the little ones (and me), they quickly grew fond of the lighted project, especially when they realized that their chores this December would not include watering a tree or vacuuming needles.

    But, I missed the smell of pine—a smell that I (like many of us) associate with Christmas. So my ever creative missus came up with another idea I had not heard before: buying a small rosemary bush from one our local, natural grocers like New Seasons or Whole foods. These small, aromatic “trees” can not only be decorated, but their needles can be pinched up and thrown into a savory holiday stew.

    While lights on a wall and a bush in a vase can never replace a real Portland, Oregon-grown Christmas tree, if you want to do something different this year, consider these ideas. It’s a very merry Portland way to celebrate.

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