One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the tree. I've always wanted to live in a house where I could have a tree (or more) in every room. Alas, I've been confined to tiny spaces. My relationship with the ole Christmas tree has been kind of a roller coaster. When I was a child my mom and dad would put the tree up after we went to bed on Christmas eve so we would see it along with the heaps of presents under it on Christmas morning. As a consequence I don't have any memories,as a young girl, of decorating the tree.
My mothers tree was very traditional. By that I mean it was a mish mash of ornaments collected over the years; some handmade, some transported to Africa and back ( six ornaments of which I have carefully cherished over the years), some store bought. No theme, colour scheme or forethought. There was always tinsselly garland, colored lights and the crowning glory were icicles draped one by one over the branches. Oh, and every tree had candy canes resting among the baubles. In those days candy canes weren't individually wrapped. We spent the rest of the holiday season picking them off one by one to eat. As time went by and they absorbed the humidity from the house they got soggy and the dried pine/fir/ needles would stick to the "crook". We would just pick them off and then chew up the softened minty goodness. Decorating a tree was not my mom's thing but she always did it for us kids.
Being the youngest and with no one else to surprise and when the novelty wore off for me she had me put the tree up every year. Dad and I often went out in the woods and cut our own tree so needless (or is that needles?) to say we had some hummers - too short, too tall, one sided, half dead, wrong kind, too wet/snowy/ugly/smelly... WHATEVER. I was so happy when I was able to talk her into putting the tree up earlier than Christmas Eve.
When we moved from the country into the city we could no longer go out into the woods and cut our own tree. Heaven forbid that dad would ever spend money on a stinkin' tree! Mom talked him into INVESTING in an artificial tree and that's what I put up for the next few years. What a bear that thing was. The holes on the "trunk" were color coded with the branches. You had to match them up to get the shape right. Well as the years went on and the tree got older pieces got lost, the colour codings wore off and it was all I could do to make it look right. Still all the ornaments, garland, tinsel and candy canes went on. And when I say all I mean ALL! I never remember my mother every buying a Christmas ornament which means they were all purchased before I was old enough to remember. I made some cute red felt and lace Victorian ones and my sisters made ornaments too but most of what we had was old, old, old. Even when I went away to college she would wait for me to come home so I could do the tree. (Really it was so she wouldn't have to!)
It's at this point I feel like I should apologize to my poor niece Kirstin. When I got married and wasn't home for Christmas on a regular basis Kirstin took over the tree decorating responsibilities. By this time that ole fake tree was an abomination. REALLY. It was HIDEOUS!! And she had to put it up year after year after year...dad had made an 'investment' once. He didn't see any need to make another. I remember one year Norm and I went home for Christmas and by this time Kirstin had gone off to college. When I saw that tree I burst out laughing. I told mom that was the most hideous thing I had ever seen and why didn't she get a new one. she told me dad had put it up. I'm sure I hurt her feelings but I just couldn't help it. I gave dad an earful too. It wasn't long after that they put the ole tree out to pasture and from then on used a ceramic table top tree.
Next, I'll tell you about my adventures with Christmas trees after I got married and up to this year.