Wednesday, December 05, 2007

O Tannenbaum

Yes, I'm cheating again ... I'm reposting a piece from a few years ago. But I was thinking of it while I decorated our tree the other night, and just wanted to share these thoughts again.

Hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season!

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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 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.


Coffeypot said...

Other than having Christmas with the grandkids, I really don’t like the season. So much so that back in the day, between marriages (I was single for 13 years between them) a friend asked me where my Christmas tree was. After a lively discussion about me being a Scrooge, I compromised.

I got a very young, dead pine out in the parking lot of the apartment complex. I bought a small candle in one of those little tin cans that looks like a pail. I melted the wax, stuck the little dead tree in it. I then bought some tiny Christmas balls and broke them. I hung them on the tree. The whole thing was about 8” high. And that was my tree for that year. She didn’t see the humor and I didn’t get a gift that year.

And, if it wasn’t for Sweet Tea, Marni and the kiddies, I wouldn’t do anything this – or any – year. I guess I am a Scrooge.

Anonymous said...

Here I am...I fell out of the loop with the end of the semester coming up too quickly! Anyway, I felt the same way over the years as we donned our Christmas tree with at at almost thirteen when we decorated the tree my daughter would say...'Mom, do we have to put THAT one on the tree this year'...and so this year as Miss Sam and her cousin decorated the tree, many of my 'memorable ornaments' were left in the rubbermaid bins. So this year instead of having every square inch filled...there are now only those ornaments that make up my daughter's memories. Funny how it goes that way.