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Monday, May 2, 2016

40 Christmases

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Eugene Okulovich stands next to a Christmas tree he purchased Dec. 3, 1970. The family has used the same tree every Christmas since. Jason Moon Photo. [Order this photo]
* Family spends 40 years with same tree

It was a snowy, day back on Dec. 3, 1970.

Eugene Okulovich and his wife Kay were expecting the birth of their son.

They also knew Christmas was just right around the corner.

While Kay was in the hospital, preparing to give birth, Eugene and their daughter, Vikki, traveled to Hook's Drugs to purchase a tree.

"Me and the daughter went to Hook's and bought the tree and put it up before I went and got (Kay and their son, Wesley) and brought them home," Eugene said.

The tree has been part of the family since.

For 40 years, the Okulovich family has put up the same Christmas tree each season.

"It's like an heirloom," Eugene said. "It's been a part of the family."

Throughout the years, Eugene and his daughter have put the tree up. However, due to prior conflicts, this was the first year she was not able take part.

"She kind of broke the tradition," he said.

Still, Vikki and Eugene placed the tree neatly in the front room of the family home with lights ornaments and all the fixings.

Some of those decorations are the same ones used since 1970.

"We laugh about it," Eugene said. "There are ornaments (on the tree) that the kids made when they were going to school. There's also stuff that the grandkids have put on the tree.

"Right down the line, things, over time, have accumulated."

The tree was the Okulovich's first.

"It's the first and only tree we've put up," Eugene said. "It was pretty expensive at the time but we seem attached to it. We like the tree.

"It's kind of a neat old tree. It's got more history to it than anything else. It's always been a part of our holiday."

Throughout the years, the family has grown. In addition to Wesley and Vikki, Eugene and Kay are grandparents to eight children and also have five great-grandchildren.

And a Christmas tree.

"It is like part of the family," he said. "I don't know what the oldest Christmas tree in town is, but I bet you it's in the top 10.

"Most people don't have a tree for a year or two. We've had this one for 40 years. It's the only one we've ever put up. There's nothing special about it that makes it any different than any other tree, other than it's the first one."

Sadly, Eugene said this might be the last year for the family tree.

He said some of the limbs are not in the greatest of shape after years and years of wear and tear.

"We might have to get another one," he said. "We've just about worn this one out. It's gone through our kids, grandkids and now we've got great-grandkids. They've all seen the same old tree.

"It's kind of neat that it's went through the whole family."

The Okulovich family will have at least one more chance to see the tree as Eugene said they have Christmas together Christmas Eve.

After that, the tree will stay up. At least through the New Year.

"It's supposed to be bad luck to take it down before New Year's," Eugene said. "It will be up until Jan. 2."

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Actually, in this era of disposable everything and planned obsolesce, the story about a 40-year-old artificial Christmas tree is newsworthy indeed.

If the tree is to be retired and I were the owner, I'd take the best branches from it and make wreaths for the family. As the family has matured and the kids have grown to adults who have their own homes, the wreaths would be a way to take a part of the family Christmas tradition into their homes.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Dec 22, 2010, at 11:31 PM

Love the story Gene, and we are thinking of you and yours. I agree with Leo, you should make the wreaths if you have to get rid of it. As usual.. you will get your gift from us next summer. Merry Christmas from your friends!

-- Posted by olmedic on Wed, Dec 22, 2010, at 11:51 PM

Nice story. Merry Christmas, Gene and Kay.

-- Posted by Dagnabbit on Thu, Dec 23, 2010, at 6:50 AM

Such a beautiful story, Merry Christmas!!!!!

-- Posted by lp_27 on Thu, Dec 23, 2010, at 6:55 AM

Merry Christmas freedom1!

-- Posted by Opinion1 on Thu, Dec 23, 2010, at 8:50 AM


-- Posted by PENNYPENNY71 on Thu, Dec 23, 2010, at 11:54 AM

Freedom, The answer to your question is, NO. You will have to wait at least Thirty years till we hear from you

-- Posted by GySgt0660 on Thu, Dec 23, 2010, at 1:20 PM

Isnt that the whole idea behind an artificial tree? So it can be used year after year..... Just say'n..... Congrats for using it for its intended purpose! Hooray!

-- Posted by WhateversClever on Thu, Dec 23, 2010, at 5:06 PM

Yes Nice Story. I also noticed why Santa has to replace a Deer or two every christmas..I see the Bow and arrows hangin on the wall behind the tree.


-- Posted by (B_b) is an idiot !! on Thu, Dec 23, 2010, at 7:24 PM


That smarta-- remark was uncalled for! I happen to know Gene & Kay and they are good people. Way to go Gene! I happen to love the story. What a great family tradition with lots of memories.

-- Posted by th1953 on Fri, Dec 24, 2010, at 6:42 PM

That's awesome that you've kept and used the tree for 40 years!!!! Another good point of having a tree that has lasted that long........obviously they were MADE BETTER back then!!! I think it's a neat story and goes to show that if something is taken care of, it CAN LAST A LONG TIME. Also, more importantly are the MEMORIES. That's what is REALLY important!

-- Posted by JaniLou on Sun, Dec 26, 2010, at 4:45 PM

I agree...very nice story! I get tired of reading about all of the troublemakers in this town!

I do however think Brazil Times needs to look at the skills of some of the writers. I think my 3rd grader could have written this article a little better then it was written.

It's sad that the old tree has to go...great idea on making the branches into wreaths though! I am sure the family members would love to have a keepsake like that! =)

-- Posted by JQuick on Sun, Dec 26, 2010, at 6:51 PM

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