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I had some help putting up my Christmas tree last weekend and it got me to thinking about some stories from my past that had to do with going and getting the tree itself. And then some decorating stories to go along with.

Let me start by saying that I'm a fan of the artificial tree. I prefer ones with fiber optics so they change colors. They make more financial sense to me, and they don't make a mess in your living room.

When I've had live trees, I like the pine scent. But I don't miss it with my fake tree.

This year my daughter was joined by my sister-in-law and nieces on decoration day. We had Christmas music playing. It was pretty fun.

It also reminded me of getting a tree when I was a kid. Mom and dad were still married in those days. But they didn't have a lot of money. Back in the sixties and seventies, you didn't need to get a permit to get a tree. All you needed in those days was the saw.

We were somewhere near Monarch, Montana on some back road that hadn't been plowed. We started a series of episodes where dad got our Plymouth stuck. Over and over. And each time he got stuck, my mom would offer more helpful winter driving tips. There was some tension.

Fast forward to our house in Riverview where the parents were out in the carport trying to flock the tree using a handy home flocking kit and a vacuum.

They were out there a long time trying to get the tree flocked. It was a cold winter night. Apparently, the flocking mix froze and started hitting the tree in chunks. Mom had some more tips. There was yelling. Then, dad flocked mom.

But they made up by Christmas day. And everybody got presents.

About 15 years ago, I invited my entire family and their spouses to Billings for Christmas. As we sat around on Christmas Eve, the flocking story came up again. Both mom and dad had their own version of that day's events. It turned into another pretty spirited discussion.

That year's gathering is the best Christmas I've had as a grownup.

You'd better get your tree up if you haven't already and make some memories of your own.

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