Christmas Tree

When the boys were younger they would go every year with their Dad and cut down a Christmas tree.  Well, they really cut down what I called “A Christmas Bush”  Way too big to fit through the door and way too tall for the family room.  So, by the time they were done “trimming it down” it looked like a big round bush with ornaments.  It didn’t matter though.

I remember when I was young my Dad used to bring home some pretty sad-looking trees.  Squatty crooked  little things that we would put on a table in front of the big window in the living room.  We never had enough lights…remember those big giant lightbulbs and the wires were always frayed and you had to jiggle them just the perfect way so they would work?  What a fire hazard huh?  And how about that old-fashioned tinsel?  You could crumple it into a ball and throw it at your brother, and your Mom would yell to put on “one piece at a time”  Somehow she managed to save it from year to year.  Remember the old ornaments that the paint had faded on, and how all the glitter had long disappeared and there were never enough ornament hangers?  Every year that collection of cool ornaments got smaller and smaller.  I still have the Nativity that we put under our tree way back when.  The figures have crumbled some and they have all suffered some type of fatal accident, disfigurement or decapitation over the years, but I still have it.  It stays in a box wrapped up with old newspapers, the injured camel lays next to the wingless angel.  The box has my Dad’s handwriting on it   “NATIVITY SCENE”.    I take it out every year and look at it. 

We have enough ornaments to decorate two trees now.  One upstairs, one downstairs.  This is a tradition my Hubby started, no woman would have thought of a tradition that takes so much work.  Every year I say to myself that I should put the ornaments in two separate boxes…one for each son.  But I never do.  I don’t really want them to move out and have their own trees I guess.

Hopefully this week we will get to the decorations.  We’ll put on old Christmas songs, drink some wine, and I’ll cry when I unwrap the things the boys made when they were little.

This will be the first Christmas without my Mom.  Unwrapping the ornaments she gave us will be the hardest.  She would give us each an ornament and tuck some money in it, I would give anything to get one this year too.  But I bet she will be bitching about the old Bing Crosby songs we will sing-a-long to.  She hated Bing Crosby.

Happy tree decorating to everyone!


12 responses

  1. Mo, your tinsel memories have really stirred up rememberies for lots of folks! After my dad retired, he and mom (and sometimes me) would go back of his mom’s house into the woods to look for a tree. It didn’t matter how far and wide they/we searched, dad, as always, chose a tree that was crooked and had bare patches on atleast one side, and needed to be wired to the ceiling to stand up straight. He did the same in Christmas tree lots. And, this was a man with training as an engineer! That was our other family tradition: making Dad’s often “Charlie Brown tree” stand up straight and look full.
    Thx Mo — I’m remembering fondly my family’s traditions, and really think I will start some new ones of my own.
    And, Elizabeth: I love the image of grandparents trying to outdo each other with these handpainted family heirlooms!

  2. We had snipped tin tinsel on our tree growing up. My grandpa told us how they saved the strips of tin from old sardine cans (remember the ones you opened by winding a key?) straightened them out and then twisted them to hang on the tree. My parents were more modern and had ones that were silver on one side and coloured on the other- red blue or green. When I finally moved out and had my own tree it took me years to find the right ones, but now they go up every year (I like the all-silver ones best). We never had the flimsy tinsel because the animals would eat it- mom and dad figured out that was a bad idea long before I came along.

    We added two new family traditions this year. Hubby’s mom dug his ceramic nativity scene handpainted by one grandmother, and his ceramic light-up holiday village handpainted by the other grandmother. Now that we have a house and roon for them they are on display. Sadly, I never met his grandparents, but I have an amusing idea of the grandmas outgoing each other with this gorgeous handpainted family gifts.

    • Elizabeth, That old fashioned sardine can tinsel sounds really cool. I Bet it was beautiful. I don’t put tinsel on our tree anymore either….not since I’ve had cats. Tinsel-decorated litter boxes right?

  3. Like you and Judy, I have tinsel memories — I’m not sure they even make it anymore. In my family, the tradition was that the tree didn’t go up until Christmas Eve (when I was very little, I thought Santa brought the tree AND the gifts). After all the ornaments (and frayed lights! — we even had old bubble lights from my grandmother’s Christmas collection) were up, each strand of tinsel had to be perfectly placed on the tree. Somehow, this came to be my job, (especially when my parents thought I was too young to successfully hang ornaments, lol). No tossing of a handful, one strand at a time only. My father would point out where there were gaps (I swear our tree had more tinsel than anyone else’s in North America!, lol).

    Another tradition was that the tree HAD to come down on New Year’s Eve. And, each strand of tinsel had to be saved for the next year, just like your mom, Mo, but it was my dad who oversaw the de-tinseling of the tree. When the strands were made of leaded material (oh, so unhealthy) there was some weight and heft to them: much easier to put on and take off. Once rescued from the branches of the tree, the tinsel strand had to be placed carefully over a piece of cardboard, and when the card was full, placed back into the orginial tinsel packaging.

    I remember clearly as an adult, in my late 20s arriving for Christmas pre-Christmas Eve and the tree was already up and decorated! Noticing my shocked expression, my father commented, “But I left the tinsel for you to put on!” The next year for Christmas, I gave my dad a wooden fork with a tag tied on that said “Automatic tinsel remover.”

    Thanks for sharing your rememberies of Christmases past. The family Christmas tree decorations are all packed away as they have been since my dad died — we had trees when he was away for Christmas, but no trees after he passed on. Mom just didn’t do Christmas well after that.
    May the memories these ornaments bring contain smiles as well as tears.

    • OMG thanks for the wonderful comment. We used to put up our tree on Christmas Eve and take it down on New Year’s Eve too! I really think it made everything more special. Nowadays kids are seeing trees and decorations right after Halloween for goodness sake!

      I love your description of the tinsel, did you live in my house? It must have been expensive stuff to force our parents to save it year to year. And it was much easier to just toss up a handfull up wasn’t it? I never got away with it either!

      Thanks Phylor


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