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Antiques & Collectibles: Trucks with trees give old fashioned Christmas a lift

Susan Waughtal and Roger Nelson next to thier old red truck (1957 Willy) with a Christmas wreath..jpg
Susan Waughtal and Roger Nelson with their old red truck, a 1957 Willy.

I don't know what it is about the red truck with a Christmas tree in the back, but it has become a real collectible.

Everywhere you look, you can find these cute little ornaments, pillows, dishes and more, all with a red truck with a Christmas tree in the back.

I definitely can say that those cute little images of the red truck with the tree have hit me to start my own collection, along with the camper with the tree, the old station wagon with the tree, and even the bike with a tree. If you know me, once I like something I just dive right in and start collecting.

At Pieces of the Past, Winona, I found a mug and didn't buy the plate yet, but I am thinking I would sure enjoy serving up cookies and hot chocolate to folks with the red pickup truck with the green tree ready to greet you.

I decided I had to search out other shops across the area to find all of the things that are out there with that little red truck.

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Cards, ornaments, more

I did find Lang cards and a Kurt Adler Christmas ornament — of course I had to purchase them. I don't know exactly how I am going to decorate my Christmas tree, but I do know it will have some of my glass and wood ornaments featuring the red truck. I will have a few pillows I have made with the little red truck and tree under my Christmas tree.

I can't get over how some local antiques dealers have gotten creative and found little, old toy trucks and added Christmas trees to the back. Ann Collins, of Churn Dash, in Rochester; Chris Rand Kujath, at the Old River Valley Antique Mall, Stewartville; and even Sarah Kieffer at Sarah's Uniques and Jim's "Man"tiques, St. Charles have gotten in on it. Their works look so cute added to holiday bookshelves and under the Christmas tree sitting on those old wooden boxes.

If you have been on the lookout for one of the trucks, Kieffer said, "There are a lot of different sizes of trucks making it easy to decorate just about anywhere in your home. This season, every green or red truck that I've have in the shop is selling." So if you see one you might want to snatch it up, now!

Online and gift shops are other places to find the little truck — on cookie cutters, cookie jars and scented warmers, too.

Why so popular?

Karen Meidinger Reilly, of Rochester, is the chief creative soul of the Occasional Market. "I think it is nostalgic!" she said. "Reminds me of Christmas movies, from 'White Christmas' to 'Charlie Brown's Christmas.' It is a family affair to pick out the perfect tree. I remember doing it with my parents and how we dressed for the cold and spent more than an hour searching the lot for the perfect tree. And we didn't have SUVs to haul it home. My dad did tie it to the roof, or my brothers tied it to a sled and brought it home.

"We would all have hot chocolate as we waited for the tree to defrost and my dad to cut an inch or two off the bottom. My brothers would bring it upstairs (I can still smell pine) and my mom would have them twirl the tree to find the fullest side. And we would have to wait until Christmas Eve to decorate and then we would honor the 12 days of Christmas. Hmm … that seems like yesterday. Hard to believe it was almost 40 years ago. Life was simpler and the joys were epic!"

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Loretta Rathert, of Altura, expressed similar thoughts. "It's a real tree purchased locally and a family activity," Rathert said. "Perhaps the image captures the essence of a non-commercialized holiday. This image is popular in the paper-crafting industry as well. Lots of rubber stamps and designer papers feature it. Personal Stamp Exchange (PSX) ceased production around 2004, they have a stamp that is a Christmas tree/truck fetching $50 or so on Ebay. Some of the other PSX stamps can go for $150 or better."

Nostalgic haul

Kieffer said, "I think nostalgia has a lot to do with this. Vintage and old tin toys are becoming more and more popular. As more and more people decorate with antique and vintage items this is one item will remain very popular."

Heather Manning Woitas, of Cherished Seconds, Stewartville, said, "The truck style is very popular. And those into restyling, the truck image is even part of the brand identification of the DIY Paint I sell in my store."

Even Susan Waughtal, Squash Blossom Farm, is getting into the act — although bigger than most.

"We have an actual old red truck (a 1957 Willy) which sports a tree or wreath at Christmas," she said. "We even used our Willy truck in last year's Christmas card photo. I also have to add that I just found a nice glass ornament of a red truck with a tree at Goodwill, not old."

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