Remember When: The ‘Thump’ Test Helped Pick The Tree

Christmas trees spotted in a parking lot brought back memories. (Photo by Joe Barkovich)

Christmas trees spotted in a parking lot brought back memories. (Photo by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

The sighting earlier today of Christmas trees for sale in a parking lot brought back memories.

Decades ago, we bought our Christmas tree from a lot on Thorold Road near Lloyd Avenue. It was DiMartile’s, and just about everyone we knew got their trees there. Or so it seemed.

You couldn’t go without bumping into an across the street neighbour, down the street neighbour, across town friend, school buddy, and so on.

Now let me say this: There was ritual involved in this yearly tradition of choosing the tree.

First, everyone would eyeball the trees: Dad, Mom, my sister and me. There were just four of us.

When there was consensus, or pretty close to it, then came the litmus test. Dad – he was a big guy – would lift up the tree, give it two or three hard thumps on the ground so the boughs would fall out and the tree would be studied again.

The tree that measured up to everyone’s standard after the thump test would be the one we settled on. The thump test was crucial to determining whether the tree had balance.

Then came the work of gently stuffing it into the trunk just right so limbs would not be crushed or broken. Then came the five-minute drive home to Sharon Avenue where we lived at the time. Yes, five minutes. We didn’t have to look far and wide for our tree.

We bought Douglas firs, rarely Scotch pines. They came from the DiMartile family’s Christmas tree farm, that’s what everyone said.

We decorated with icicles of course, and something rarely seen nowadays – something called “Angel’s Hair”. I can see it in my mind’s eye even though it has been long, very, very long since I last saw Angel’s Hair on a tree. There were also all sorts of bulbs, lights and one particularly memorable type of tubular-shaped light: it had bubbles moving around in a liquid contained within. They never stopped. Of course, there was always a Nativity set underneath the tree.

Going to DiMartile’s to buy our tree took place in early December. As I recall, it was mostly a weekend adventure so that everyone could take part.

I could be wrong, but I don’t recall the trees on DiMartile’s lot being fenced in. Maybe they didn’t need to be a few decades ago: five, tiptoeing closer to six. Remember when?

(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City. Remember When is a new feature on the blog.)

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