January 6, 2016
Festive 'beachmas' tree takes a beating in cold winds


Today marks the day that many Hatteras islanders in days gone by celebrated Old Christmas. We thought it would be a good day to share with you the 'beachmas' tree, created by Anna and Buddy Noland of Chester, Va., and their family.

We can still do that, although we are sad to report that Monday's high winds pretty well blew away all the ornaments.

Anna Noland says the family has been visiting Hatteras Island for about 40 years, since their daughters, Nina and Natalie, were youngsters.  For many  years, they camped in Frisco, but about six years ago, the Nolands bought a condo in Hatteras village so they could visit more frequently.

For several years, they have noticed "Christmas trees" of some fashion on the beach -- usually a branch that someone stuck in the sand and others added decorations to. The family called them "beachmas" trees.

This year, the Nolands -- Anna and Buddy and their daughters and their families -- decided to create their own "beachmas tree" when they were visiting for Thanksgiving.

Anna Noland says they didn't settle for any little, spindly branch.  They found a "huge" branch up on the dunes -- about 6 or 8 feet long.  It took three of them, but they hauled it to the beach just south of Ramp 55 in Hatteras village, dug a huge hole, and planted it upright in the sand. They had to stand on the bed of their pick-up truck to add decorations to the top part of the "tree."

They decorated it with shells, seaweed, and other bits and pieces of their "beach finds," such as fishing line or hooks.

The Nolands went home and before they came back after Christmas, other beachgoers had left their own trimmings on the tree, and it was looking quite festive in the sunshine of the new year.

Others left mostly stuff they found on the beach -- there were many more shells, more tangled lines, and fish hooks. However, some folks left bright red and green ribbon, a candy cane, a Santa Claus, an angel.

The Nolands enjoyed the tree over the warm, sunny weekend after New Year's, but then came an Arctic cold front with north winds gusting up to about 40 mph,, and Anna says that when they returned on Monday, Jan. 4, the tree was pretty much bare.

Perhaps that's as it should be with a "beachmas" tree. We guess you might consider that the trimmings have been taken down and put away for another year -- without the time and effort it usually takes and we all dread having to do.  

Now, the question is, will the "tree" stand during this winter's wind-driven high tides and heavy seas?

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