Thursday, December 04, 2008

Oh Christmas tree

oh Christmas tree, --la la --la la-- la-- la la...

I woke at 3:30 this morning humming this song. Waking at 3:30 is not unusual for me, it an age thing... however waking at 3:30 AM humming is. Generally I wake with quilt ideas in my head or list of things to do in the mornings, but never before humming. I'm blaming it on the season and the fact that I was up and down the ladder; bending and stooping to unload the tree trimming boxes and staying busy for most of the day before I got all of the angels, Santa's and pine cones placed through out the great room. It has taken me several days to decorate the hall, (great room and foyer) mainly because I enjoy doing it and I really didn't feel the need to rush through it. Truth to tell I rather like the Zen like task of making 6 dozen or so gold bows which was accomplished unhurriedly over the last two days.

As I was humming myself back to sleep after a trip to the potty, I began thinking of all the Christmas trees that have graced my life through the years and in doing so I did not recall a single year when I didn't love the Christmas season, the decorations and the tree when it was done.

I was a child during the years when most of the major retail stores had animated decoration in their windows for the holidays. Children of today have no clue what they have missed, unless they happen to live in a city like New York where I believe Macy still does it holiday windows. I was fortunate in another way too. We lived 5 blocks from a large Sears store. In my youth I recall spending hours with my nose pressed against the large corner window peering in and being throughly entertained. The windows were up as I best remember shortly after Thanksgiving until a day or two after the New Year.

Of course too, when I was a child our house always had a well decorated tree and smelled of the season. There were bowls of fresh fruit nuts in the shell and hard candy, but no fresh flowers or stocking hung from the fireplace because our house did not have a fireplace. But our shoes left under our beds were filled with coins; that I later learned when I was much older, were left for us not by elves or Santa, but by our Uncle Jack. But best of all during the holidays was the smell of a freshly cut pine tree.

The trimming of our Christmas tree, like the cooking of the Thanksgiving dinner was what my Father AWAYS DID. We all grew up knowing that it was Dad's tree. We knew not to ask to help because we wouldn't be allowed.
Oh we did get to add the tinsel when I was nearly 12 years old, one strand at a time but only when my Dad had finished what I always thought was the fun parts; stinging the light, hanging the pretty ornaments and placing the angel atop the tree. To this day, I still dislike tinsel on tree. The benefit of being an adult is you don't have to use it.

Growing up our Christmas trees from the time when I can first recall the memories of them were decorated for adults, or rather for my Father, not the children. It was a look but don't touch thing that stood in front of the window in our living room year after year.

When I grew up and became a wife and mother and the maker of the home I wanted I finally got to decorate a tree. Except for the first two trees that were decorated with passed on to me from my Grandmother Christmas ornaments, Starting the year my oldest son was 2, I began decorating our trees with the children in mind.

There were toy solders some years. Or lots of candy canes another year. One year I did a tree mainly of ginger snap cookies in holiday shapes that I spend hours sitting with a large bore needle punching holes in the cookies so I could add tiny red ribbon to hang them by. I remember fondly that by the end of the season the tree was denuded of cookies at the level the kids could reach. All pulled off by little hands and eaten.

But as the children grew the tree began to chance and it became more fru-fru-ed and adulterly done.

Now with all my kids long grown and the grand boys following suit bows have replaced cookies. Baby breath some years was used instead of candy cane. This year ribbons have won out over garland made of popcorn. Last year Lyn reluctantly let go of her collection of Sesame Street character ornaments. She sent them off to the home of a friend with small children, hopefully to charm and cheer. This year Lyn and I looked wistfully at the collection of Dr Susses Cat in the Hat, hats and the Grinch's pointed toe shoes we couldn't part with last year, but now know that from this year forward they no longer have a place on the trees in our house.

This year we have gone GOLD. Gold ribbon done up in bows, gold balls both shiny and matte and, gold stars. Touches of red in the form of holly berries abound. All very adult-ish, ... but as pretty as it all is, there is something missing... and I know what it is... as I sit satisfied with a job nearly complete, I look about the almost too perfectly done room and wistfully remember and miss the sound of laughter made my small children and grand children who in wide eyed amazement stood transfixed gazing at the lighted trees in my past.

It's all about the joy given to others that makes all the work one does for Christmas worth the effort.

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