Wisconsin man keeps 40-year-old Christmas tree up until son returns

A Wisconsin man will refuse for about the 40th time to partake in the annual after-holiday chore of putting Christmas ornaments back into storage and dragging the Christmas tree to the curb.

Instead Neil Olson will leave his Christmas tree - the same one he says he put up in 1974 - in the same corner of his living room in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Olson is not a procrastinator but a promise keeper. He vowed to keep the now scrawny spruce up until all of his six sons are home together for Christmas again.

Olson's children have not all gathered for Christmas since 1974, when his oldest son, Barry, went to fight in Vietnam. Barry was severely wounded in the war has lived in Seattle since returning. He cannot come home to Wisconsin because he is unable to travel due to debilitating combat injuries.

"My oldest one was all shot to hell," Olson said. "I won't ever take it down until my boy comes home."

A photograph of the tree in the Wausau Daily Herald showed the tree's needles have turned brown but not fallen off.

"Most of 'em don't last," Olson told the newspaper. "The needles are kept on for a reason. It's supernatural, I say."

The original ornaments, some more than a century old, and the lights that he used to decorate in 1974 remain on the tree.

Over the years, a few bats have gotten into Olson's house and made a nest in the tree, which is skinnier and shorter than it once was.

"It's still smiling at me," he said. "Still a pretty tree yet, no matter how old it is."

Olson, a World War Two and Korean War veteran, spent Christmas at his home where his sons, except for Barry, and grandchildren gathered around the tree and drank a couple of beers.

"I just pray to God that he can keep it in good shape until he gets home," Olson said of the tree. "Maybe my prayers will be answered."