By Donna O'Neil, Managing Editor
Bill and Donna Sumners of Franklin thought there was something familiar about the Christmas Tree that was recently lit on Legislative Plaza as part of the seasonal celebration.
“A few days ago, I was listening to the radio and heard the story about the lighting of the Capitol Christmas tree and that the Norway Blue Spruce had been cut from state-owned property in Arrington,” Bill said. “I thought – could this be our old Christmas tree?”
“My first thought when I heard that story was, ‘That’s our tree!’” said Donna. “About seven years ago the state bought our 100-year-old house (known locally as the Bulware house) and some of the surrounding property for the widening of Highway 96 East,” Donna said. “This was the home where all of my three children grew up, so the loss of the house will always be felt by my family, but our memories of living there and the wonderful experience of growing up in Arrington and attending College Grove Elementary School will always be treasured by my children.”
This past weekend my Bill and Donna drove out to their former property on Highway 96 East between Franklin and Murfreesboro and saw the freshly cut stump of our tree.
Donna said, “Last weekend my husband asked if I would like to drive over the Arrington and confirm that the state Christmas tree was our tree. I agreed reluctantly, because I wanted to know, but I was afraid of feeling sad when I saw that the tree had been cut. As soon as we came over the hill and saw the treetops, we knew the tree was gone. A large stump was all that remained. I did feel a little sad, but I realized that the tree would have been sacrificed anyway with the road-widening project and I was glad the tree was being enjoyed by so many people.”
Bill said, “I had the notion several years ago to alert someone with the state about the possible use of the spruce as the state Christmas tree, but never made the call.”
“We further confirmed the identity of the state Christmas tree by going to a website that showed the cutting and removal of the tree from our former property. Monday morning we drove by the state capitol and saw it displayed in front of the capitol. I was struck by the fact that it holds such a place of distinction. The Sumners family is honored to share our Christmas tree and we wish you a all the joys of Christmas spent with family and friends this year,” she said.
The tree has been a member of the Sumners family since 1985.
At that time, he said, “we had recently moved to an old farmhouse in Arrington and decided we would get live trees and place them in our yard. We did this for about 10 to 12 years. But this Norway Blue Spruce was our first and by far the largest,” Bill said.
“The trees I saw that day were beautiful Norway Spruce trees, with perfect shapes and lots of branches for ornaments. I chose the largest tree, standing well over eight feet tall, to make sure it was in correct proportion for our high ceilings,” she said.
“In spite of the fact that two men struggled to get the tree into the trunk of my car, I drove home, intending to pull the tree out of the trunk and continue with my day’s errands. Only after I drove into my driveway did I realize that I could not get that tree out of my trunk. The tree protruded from my trunk as I continued with my day's errands. That evening, my husband found that he could not move the tree either. Fortunately, a friend came over and together they were able to move the tree into my living room where we set it up right in front of the bay windows. We all agreed that it was the most beautiful Christmas tree we had ever had,” she said.
Bill continued, “After Christmas, my oldest son and I carted the tree to the corner of our lot, dug the hole and planted the tree. Thus began our Christmas tradition.”
Emotions run deep in the Sumners family about sharing their tree with the state. “For me, I am just pleased to see how this beautiful tree has come full circle. In 1985 it served us as a great Christmas tree and the beginning of a family tradition. This tree has always had a special place in our kids’ hearts,” Bill said. “So, the Sumners family Christmas tree of 1985 is now the Capitol Christmas tree for the state of Tennessee for 2012. What an honor and what a tree.”
Posted on: 12/5/2012