Tuesday, December 13, 2005

O Tannenbaum

As we careen wildly toward the holiday, I’m beginning to make progress. I got a big chunk of my shopping done last night and getting that behind me alone is relaxing me. The Hub and I also got the tree hauled out and put up. It’s still standing naked in the living room, but it is up! (Yes, AC, I know fake trees are communist, but in its defense it is a really nice tree ;P).

I am an eclectic decorator. While I think trees done in department-store-perfect themes and color schemes are lovely, I prefer a homey feel for my own personal tree. We deeply weave hundreds of lights from trunk to branch tips, followed by draping several strands of faceted silver beads halfway in, to catch the light and make our tree even more shimmery. And then, the ritual of the ornaments. I have several boxes of the usual colored glass globes and the satin snowball ornaments. Our tree is large and these make nice fillers. But most items are individuals, very different from one another.

I started to collect bells for my tree several years ago. Not jingle bells, but the classic belfry-bell shape. I have two cloisonné bells, one with snowflakes, the other with holly. I have several character bells – angels, Santas, snowmen – their feet serving as clappers in a hollow skirt or overcoat. Bells with verses of poetry or scripture on them. Bells that tinkle merrily as I hang them. I love to get lost in my own little carol of the bells as I decorate my tree. In later years I’ve had a hard time finding working bell ornaments. I hope they come back into fashion soon.

I have commemorative ornaments with events and calendar years on them. Ornaments displaying favorite sports teams, hobbies, and collectibles. The little racecar from Toy Story that came in a Happy Meal and we turned into a tree decoration. Ornaments from vacation spots, and as souvenirs brought back by friends. A spider made of red and green beads, sitting on a silver thread web woven god’s eye-style, because I love spiders. Miniature power tool ornaments the Hub found at Sears. The resin pet ornament I found on line last year that looks just like Most Beautiful Dog. A crystal Star of the East. A fancy gold cross. The fuzzy bunny sitting in the crook of a candy cane – the ornament my Mom gave me for my first tree when I went away for college. Countless others, each unique and each meaningful.

I have a whole mess of cheesy cheap junky ornaments that I think I got for 5 for $1. A white plastic reindeer with an iridescent coating on it. Fake peppermint candies made of striped plastic wrap over chunks of Styrofoam. A shiny gold painted Santa Claus boot filled with toys. A sleigh with a half busted runner. A weird looking guy – maybe a soldier, maybe a jester, I’m not sure - made of colorful wooden beads. Things like that. I bought those our first Christmas together. We were both starting over – we’d just bought a house and we were so poor!

They’re really quite ugly, this certain collection (chuckle). But I hang them each year. Why? Because they are a part of our Christmas past. Pieces of the memories we have made and traditions we have established. When I look at my tree, the decorations take me back to past seasons, and I find myself reflecting fondly on where we’ve been, how far we’ve come, and how blessed we are in so many ways.

Each year we add a few more items to the collection. I just bought a new train ornament, as Incrediboy is really into trains right now. He half murdered the little flag on top of it as we made our way to the checkout, but in typical Mom fashion, I see this as part if its charm now. I want to hang it each year forevermore in its gimpy, imperfect state, a victim of busy little hands. By next year I’m thinking we’ll be making things together to hang on the tree. Awkward, chunky, messy toddler decorations. Exquisitely beautiful in their own way.

I hope that someday every square inch of our tree will be donned with symbols of love and kindredship. Old and new, silver and gold. Plastic, resin, glass, paper, Popsicle sticks, glitter. These say home to me. These say, Merry Christmas with love.


Martie said...

I, too have seen the beautifully decorated treesn the department stores and have always opted for the "homey" tree myself also.

Our tree is adorned with memories of the now grown childrens special ornaments made with love for me in grade school and every year they look at the tree and ask why I have put that "ugly old thing" on it. The answer is simple, "because it was made with love by you, for ME!"

Michelle said...

See, I like both the perfectly themed tree and the homey kind. That's why I have two trees. The "formal" one in the living room and the "homey" one in the family room where we have our Christmas festivities.

But I much prefer the classy decorations around the house rather than the blow up Snoopy and Woodstock type deco.

Smerdyakov said...

The more ornaments the better to cover up your commie tree.
My decorating is much the same. I usually get a couple ornaments when I travel so I have quite the assortment.

bigwhitehat said...

Eat it up. Time is fleeting. My oldest drives now.

Cheryl said...

I love it! It's so cool to hear about other people's ornament collections... our trees can really reflect our history and personality.

Rebecca said...

Absolutely. Same with me Clew. The tree is almost symbolic of our lives - and the ornaments represent the paths upon which we've walked. I love my tree to have pretty bulbs and ribbon that are "fillers" as you said; but the ornaments we've collected over the years are what make it part of who we are as a family, and where we've been..

Kodijack said...

Ugh, the sentimants are making my throat itch. You guys are killing me!

I really appreciate people who have these type of feelings about their tree and the ornaments, and the stockings. I wish that I could join in.

But I certainly appreciate listening to everyone. Great post Clew.

Nelly said...

I love the picture you painted! I can see your tree perfectly in my head. It sounds gorgeous! I too like a tree that represents the person or family that puts it up year after year. I like to look at matching trees with decor, but that kind of tree is not for me! I have some ornaments that were my momther-in-laws 30 years ago, some from my mom, and one from my husbands pre-school days! I love the memories on my tree!

Nelly said...

I love your blog by the way! I'm linking ya on mine!

Bougie Black Boy said...

I was putting up my parent's christmas tree and i found some ornaments my sister and I made when we were about 5yrs old and 7 years old. And, it was crazy, because though it was so many years ago, I did remember the exact moment I painted them, put glitter on them.

I hung them up on the tree, again this year.

[kinda frustrated my blog is down today. not sure of its problem]