By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Dec 10, 2020 at 6:01 PM

Glum Charlie Brown questioned the true meaning of Christmas in the 1965 TV special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas," and in defiance of commercialism and the shiny, sparkly aspects of the season, he bought a dumpy, nearly bald tree with the strength and needles to hold but a single ornament.

South Milwaukee’s Anna Spankowski has been buying "Charlie Brown trees" for many years – but for different reasons.

"They are so much fun!" says Spankowski. "I started buying them when I got sick of bending my fake tree into shape every year, so I wanted a real tree. My husband was anti-spending money on a real one that year, so I was on the hunt for cheap."

Spankowski and her family, which includes her husband and teen sons, bought their "Charlie Brown" trees at the Milwaukee Public Market, which in past years had a range of trees from large and lush to plain and Peanuts-esque.

At first, Spankowski’s sons were less enthused about the prospect of scrappy trees, but once she got the lights on and they saw the transformation happening, they loved it.

"I think that is why I always got ‘Charlie Brown’ trees. You start with something so laughable, and when you are done, everyone loves it. It is a true Christmas transformation," she says.

This year, however, the Public Market is not selling trees. So the Spankowskis went to Buffalo Bill's Choose & Cut Christmas Trees instead, hoping they could find a scraggly tree at a high-end tree farm. 

"Buffalo Bill's trees start around $50, but Charlie Brown trees have to be low-priced and awkward and I was determined," says Spankowski. "I found the 'budget tree' section in the back. Not all were perfect, and they were still more money than the Public Market trees, but we finally found our gem."


Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.