Robert Frost (1874–1963)
From Robert Frost: Collected Poems, Prose, & Plays
When she was an adult, Lesley Frost Ballantine recalled Christmases during her childhood in New Hampshire. Her father, the poet Robert Frost, was very much involved in—and, in fact, usually coordinated—the planning for the holidays, which began as early as October.
Picking out the tree was itself an event. When the children were very young, Frost would hike out to the woods with an ax to “see Santa Claus” and would secretly chop down the tree that would be unveiled on Christmas Day. But when they were older it became a family event. “We went scouting for a well-shaped pine or balsam or spruce,” she wrote. “The proud child was the one who had spotted the ‘perfect tree,’ the one symmetrically rounded, slimly tapered, and not too tall for the bay window of our front living room. It became, long before it was cut, a sort of symbol, the raison d’etre of our Christmas preparations.”
The woods on their property in Derry Village and, later, in Franconia became an essential part of the Frost family’s daily lives—and of Frost’s poetry. And nowhere is the convergence of Christmas and the forest more obvious than in Frost’s poem “Christmas Trees,” which began life as a Christmas letter to friends and families. We present both the poem and the story of its curious history as our Story of the Week selection.