Soon after adopting the German idea of decorated table-top trees, Americans began bringing full-size trees indoors.

In "The Peterkin Papers" (Houghton Mifflin, 1960) Lucretia Hale humorously describes the domestic catastrophes of the Peterkin family during the Victorian era in New England, when table-top Christmas trees were replaced by decorated large trees that stood on the floor.

"Indeed, the idea of a great floor-to-ceiling Christmas tree is uniquely American," says Phillip Snyder in "The Christmas Tree Book" (Viking, 1976). By 1910, Snyder tells us, " ... in many parts of America, nearly all children had a tree at home." While most trees originally came from the forest, the increased demand brought about the beginning of Christmas tree farms.

Even the Depression didn't deter Americans from cutting corners on a Christmas tree. Truman Capote recalls, in "A Christmas Memory" (Random House, 1956), the excitement of tree-cutting morning and the " ... scented acres of holiday trees." With regard to how tall a tree should be, perhaps his friend's advice is best: " ... twice as tall as a boy. So a boy can't steal the star."

This year, the National Christmas Tree Association predicts that 36 million trees will be sold and estimates that there are about 15,000 Christmas tree growers and 5,000 choose-and-cut farms. Also, a mail-order catalogue offered Christmas trees with an attached water supply. Several years ago the innovation was Christmas trees for rent. Next year may see the advent of glow-in-the-dark trees currently being developed in California. If that happens, will trees still need a star?