Man Holds Onto Hope With 40-Year-Old Christmas Tree

Neil Olson
[Photo credit: Daily Herald/Dan Young]

One man is celebrating the season the same way he has since 1974. Neil Olson, of Wausau, WI, put up his real Christmas tree in 1974, the year when two of his sons were sent to fight in the war. He vowed he would not take down the tree until all of six of his sons were able to return to the home to celebrate Christmas. Sadly, the tree remains standing, decorations and all.

It is surprising the tree has lasted this long. The needles have yellowed, but they are still intact and in great shape. The Wausau Daily Herald published an interview with Olsen and reported that the 89-year-old man believes it is a miracle and he will not give up hope that his sons will reunite for a homecoming Christmas celebration.

“The needles are kept on for a reason,” Olson told the Wausau Daily Herald. “It’s supernatural, I say.”

Neil Olson's tree
[Photo credit: Daily Herald/Dan Young]
Unfortunately, that may never happen. Olson’s oldest son was severely injured in Vietnam. The injury left him disabled and in Washington state, which has prevented him from returning to Wausau.

Olson’s five other sons live in Wausau and see their father regularly. His youngest son, Rich, said he couldn’t imagine his father’s house without the tree.

“It’s like family now. I hate to take it down.”

The tree stands in Olson’s living room, still filled with tinsel, ornaments and lights. Despite, the lights, the tree has not been lit up in years. The multi-colored lights are more than 100 years old. Olson jokes about the antique status of the lights.

“It’d just blow up on me. All that dust on there. It’d be like an atomic bomb.”

Olson still talks to his oldest son regularly and believes that one day he could return to the home. Until then, the tree will remain standing waiting for a holiday family reunion.


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