IT’S NOT QUITE a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. But close, my husband assessed.
He’s correct and I’m beyond delighted with our purchase this year of an old-fashioned untrimmed Christmas tree grown on a dairy farm near Duluth.
The short, scrubby tree with the unbalanced shape and sparse branches reminds me of the Christmas trees which topped one end of our grey Formica kitchen table in the cramped farmhouse where I grew up in southwestern Minnesota during the 1950s and 1960s.
That’s the type of tree I’ve always wanted in my adulthood, but never found until this year. Short and beautiful, bedecked in tinsel and decorated with ornaments like a wax lamb, never hung too close to a holiday light, and the glittery shimmer of a silver church with red windows. That’s my tree memory.
All these decades living in Faribault, I could have had this type of imperfect tree, if only I’d paused to look.
Since 1988, Ken Mueller has been selling old-fashioned trees on a leased lot on the north edge of Faribault, just down the road from the Rice County Historical Society and across the street from a liquor store and gas station. He remembers his wife selling trees, baby strapped to back. His daughter is 26 now.
Countless years I’ve passed the Kuntze Christmas Tree Lot, noticing the scraggly trees leaning against wood frames and, in the evening, spotlighted by glaring light bulbs. And I just passed right by.
Mueller’s trees are hauled down from Duluth to peddle to customers like me desiring a nature-shaped tree that is anything but Christmas card perfect. He sells nearly 300.
Our tree cost $12, well, $15 if you include the $3 tip my husband gave Ken. Not only perfect, but Charlie Brown affordable.
SO WHAT’S YOUR IDEA of a “perfect” tree? Does it match mine, or does it look something like these, photographed at Farmer Seed and Nursery, where we began our quest and usually buy our Christmas tree (but didn’t this year because of the cost):
© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling