Trees, trees, trees light up their livesEvery family develops traditions. For Fritz and Judy Meyer, who easily reminiscence about their vastly different childhoods, it has become a tradition to decorate and light trees, 22 of them in fact.
By: Margaret Ontl, Hudson Star-Observer
Every family develops traditions. For Fritz and Judy Meyer, who easily reminiscence about their vastly different childhoods, it has become a tradition to decorate and light trees, 22 of them in fact.
Greeted by their granddaughter, Skylar, who eagerly takes this reporter on tour of grandma’s trees, naming them as she points out the distinct differences, the crystal tree, the lollipop tree, the brush animal tree, the Charlie Brown tree, the fruit tree, the gingerbread tree, the Dr. Seuss tree, the jewel tree, the kids’ tree, the green tree, the clear glass ornament tree and the ceramic tree. You get the idea, oh yes, there is a real Fraser fir as well.
For Meyer it is about lighting up life, not just at Christmas but year round. Raised on a farm in Viroqua, her father always took pride in a nice Christmas tree.
“We came from a singing family,” said Judy, who recalled singing in the little rural church surrounded by bluffs and coulees. “My dad grew up singing and his quartet went to the Chicago World’s Fair to perform. Lefse and oyster stew were always on the holiday menu with her mother making both.
“We would paint on our windows, have sleigh rides and use the grainery as a playhouse,” said Judy.
When Judy, the Norwegian, met Fritz Meyer, the German, there was quite a contrast.
Meyer, from Loyal, also grew up on a farm but with eight siblings, seven brothers and one sister.
“We had our traditions too,” said Fritz. “We learned how to play cards before we knew how to read.” They had a regular Christmas tree which was put up on Christmas Eve after the kids went to bed.
“Santa was the one who decorated the tree,” said Fritz. “We celebrated Christmas morning. We each had one present that was it.”
“We would write Santa letters,” said Fritz. “Mom would burn them in her cook stove, telling us they would get to Santa faster via the smoke rising in the air. I doubted that and I suspect she just wasn’t going to waste a stamp.”
The first time Fritz visited Judy’s home at Christmas, she accidentally poured the leftover oyster stew into his coffee. Someone had put it in the cream pitcher. It did not deter him.
The two have kept the spirit of Christmas alive and passed the joy on to their four children, three sons and one daughter, who admits to having caught the Christmas tree bug.
“When we used to go shopping we were always looking for an unusual tree,” said Judy. “My first tree was one from Har Mar Mall.”
Every tree is different in size, shape and color. From the less than two-foot, scrawny “Charlie Brown” tree to the slender tall tree graced with only one ornament, a cardinal and everything in between.
Fritz, a huge Packer fan, offers a tree on the lower level, covered with Packer ornaments. Not just a few, the nearly full-size tree is blanketed with them. Many are dated ornaments which Fritz orders every year for himself and his sons. The tree also holds memories; ornaments marking the annual treks taken by dad and his three sons to an away Packer game, including one in Ohio.
He also collects Santas which have their own display space in their home.
There is a peacefulness in the Meyer household that seems to come from the light generated by Fritz and Judy as they share the spirit of the season as well as from the lights on their trees.
“It is a way of life,” said Judy.
“She has the Christmas spirit all year round,” said Fritz.