The holidays are full of tradition. Germany gave us the Christmas tree. Santa Claus is based on a real-life saint who lived near modern-day Turkey. Holiday songs from the 40s and 50s are still played on the radio, and Michael Bublé comes out of his cave every year around this time to sing jazzy Christmas tunes. There is another tradition that is prevalent, at least in America. The existence of a certain red pickup truck that can be seen on display in home improvement stores, adorning Christmas trees, and even being recreated in real life. If you don’t know where or how this iconic image emerged, we are here to answer that question.
The problem is, we don’t actually know.
Heroes get remembered but legends never die
The legend of the vintage red truck carrying a Christmas tree symbolizes the obvious trek into the forest to chop down said tree and carry it back to your house to be decorated. However, how that symbol came to permeate White’s Mercantile and T.J. Maxx stores all over the nation is a mystery that even the internet can’t solve.
The first issue is that we can’t even agree on what vintage truck is carrying the Christmas tree. The most popular model is the 1935 Ford Model 50, but some decorations and displays resemble a 1939 Chevrolet Half-Ton, 1948 3100 Advance, 1949 Dodge B1-C-116, or 1946 Dodge WC. The late 40’s, early 50’s Chevy 3100 is the one I remember most vividly, but the other models have also been on display. What we do know is that this tradition likely originated in the U.S. since all the truck models depicted are American-branded pickups.
However, maybe the mystique is part of the charm. It is a reminder of a “simpler time”, an idealized memory projecting the magic of the Christmas holiday. If we knew more about it maybe the magic would disappear. Instead, the symbol lives on through story and culture, letting individuals determine exactly what it means to them. We get to fill in the rest of the narrative, and that helps weave the fabric of society just a little closer together.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.