Last Thursday my son, Ethan, and I put up our Christmas tree. It was fairly simple – fit tab A into slot B and so forth. I’ve never had an artificial tree before, so this was a new experience.
After the metal pieces had been slotted, we stood back and Ethan said, "Mom that doesn’t look like the box." I assured him that the metal branches extending from the metal trunk could be covered with cuttings from our cedar tree outside – not to worry.
I was worried. It looked like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
Then I studied the box again and noticed that the tree limbs were on hinges and could be bent out. It took a little time to do, but by the time I had bent the hinges, the tree looked like the box. Came with lights, too.
The next day, I strung some colored lights on it, and thought that later that evening we could begin to hang ornaments.
Enter my twin 4-year-old granddaughters, Amy and Kaylee. Daddy brought them to Grandma’s house for a visit, and after they had explored their toy room and sat for a while in the “princess reading corner,” they started looking for something else to do.
That was when they noticed the Christmas tree in the front room. "Can we help you decorate the tree, Grandma?" they asked. Of course, Grandma said "Yes."
I must admit, I was a little nervous. Beginning with non-breakable ornaments, soon the only ones left to hang were the precious glass ornaments that I had accumulated over a number of years.
Handing one of the special ornaments to Kaylee, she advised me, "You have to bend this over, Grandma, so they will hang on the tree."
That was when I realized that my little ones were veterans of Christmas tree decorating. Our tree soon sparkled with the various colors of ornaments, all hanging from the lower branches.
I don’t know about you, but my childhood memories of Christmas tree decorating come with mixed feelings.
Six children and one tree can cause problems. It seems that the expectation surrounding the presence of the Christmas tree in our home clouded the memories of the previous Christmas tree decorating fiasco.
To my memory, the happiness of beginning to decorate the tree soon evaporated as we hurried to see who could hang the most ornaments on the tree. In our rush, the smaller children would sometimes be pushed aside, stepped on or generally ignored, at which time they protested loudly.
After the crying children were soothed and the spankings meted out, Mom would unwrap the angel tree-topper. The angel was always the last ornament to be added to the tree. If dad wasn’t at work, it was he who would anchor the angel on the tree, signifying that tree decorating was done.
The Christmas trees of my youth were much like the tree pictured above in my 1955 family Christmas photograph. Looks like my brothers, sister and I were satisfied with our gift that year. Funny, I do not remember the doll, but remember well the watch and cufflink case my eldest brother, Ed, is shown holding.
This year, as I held my tree-topper in my hands before placing it on the highest branch, memories flooded back and I wished it was my mother’s little angel topper that I held. But then again, I have my own little angels in Amy and Kaylee.