A Note from the Editors:
'Tis the Season To Go Shopping...
In the United States the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the busiest shopping time of the year. The day after Thanksgiving, nicknamed "Black Friday," is considered the best shopping day of the year and marks the first day of the Christmas Season. It is estimated that retailers make seventy percent of their annual profits during the weeks leading up to Christmas. With all the media and retailers hype, many people complain that gift giving has become the central focus of Christmas.
Finding Your Christmas Tree
The tradition of the Christmas tree began as a German tradition and was brought to America in the mid 1800's through the Pennsylvania German immigrants. The German tradition developed from the "Paradise Tree" which was an evergreen decorated with apples and used in a popular play about Adam and Eve held on December 24 in medieval Germany. In the 1600's Germans began decorating their homes with evergreens for Christmas. They trimmed the trees with paper flowers, candles, tinsel, and edible ornaments such as nuts, fruits, cookies, and candies. Today many people make selecting and decorating the Christmas tree an event for the whole family. In the weeks leading up to Christmas gifts are wrapped and placed underneath the tree. On Christmas morning, the family once again gathers around the tree waiting for the festivities to begin. The scent, aroma, and the real tree itself have become an integral part of the family unity as well as the holiday season itself.
Most people prefer to purchase a pre-cut, live Christmas tree although artificial and live trees, which can be planted in the yard later, are also available. Fresh cut trees can be purchased from local lots and tree farms. There are several things to keep in mind as you pick out the family Christmas tree. Make sure that the tree is fresh. It is helpful to ask the dealer if the tree was locally grown since local trees are cut nearer Christmas instead of shipped long distances. You can check the freshness of a tree by either grasping a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pulling it toward you or you can shake and bounce the tree on its stump. If you do not see an excessive amount of needles falling to the ground, the tree is fresh. You can break a few of the needles which should feel moist or sticky and should be flexible and fragrant when crushed. You should also make sure that the tree has a fresh, green color. Sometimes trees are sprayed with a blue-green dye that is harmless but you should be sure that the dye is not hiding a dry tree. It is also good to check the tree limbs to make sure that they are strong enough to support lights and ornaments.
When the tree is brought home, before setting it up, cut about an inch off of the stump to aid in water absorption and quickly put the cut end into a container of water. When setting up the tree be sure to use a sturdy stand with a large water reservoir so it will not dry out. A tree can stay fresh for weeks if the tree stand is kept filled with water. The tree should be watered daily since it can absorb as much as a gallon of water or more in the first 24 hours and one or more quarts a day thereafter. Remember to keep the tree away from heat and draft sources such as fireplaces, televisions, radiators, and air ducts.