Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Christmas Tree Memories

(I wrote this 8 years ago and found it on my old computer. Thought it was worth sharing.)

Three little girls with sparkling blue eyes, and smiles spread wide across their faces, their reddish-blonde hair glistening in the light of the freshly decorated Christmas tree. They each don new nightgowns, two dark blue with teddy bear prints, and the other a light blue with clouds floating throughout the pattern. Beautiful red garland is woven not so neatly around the tree. Decorations on the tree cluster in certain areas, leaving other areas not quite filled. The twinkle lights sparkle, and the illuminated star sitting at the top of the tree reminds us of what Christmas is really all about. To the left of the tree, sitting on the counter, is a jolly ol’ Santa Claus watching over the little girls.

Three, four and six; that’s the age of the little angels standing in front of the tree. At least they look like angels for the moment. But I can still detect a gleam of orneriness shining from their eyes. At least they aren’t fighting for the moment.

I love my three granddaughters, and seeing their picture, I can’t help but reflect back to when I was a child. Our Christmas trees were much like this one. The kids always played a big part in decorating the tree each year. At my grandmother’s house, we would string cranberries and popcorn, carefully putting several pieces of popcorn on the string, then a cranberry. Cranberries cost more than popcorn. We also made paper chains. Sometimes we used green, white and red paper, sometimes we colored our own paper, but the time we shared together while making the decorations became a memory I cherish.

At home, my brother, sister and I also decorated the tree together with the help of Mom and Dad. And the last two things that went into the decorating were the star or angel that sit at the top....my dad usually put this piece on...and the wooden manger scene that sat below the tree with one light shining from the back to illuminate the baby Jesus in the cradle. I remember well my mother’s quest to find the perfect tree when we were older. One year, she found what looked like the perfect tree, but when we went to put it up, it was top heavy. We had to tie a rope from a nail on the wall to hold it up. We still laugh about the trees Mom so carefully chose each year.

My own children helped to decorate our tree. I incorporated some of the old ideas into the decorations. Sometimes we made chains of paper and popcorn. Sometimes we made our own wooden ornaments to hang around the tree. But we always did it together and placed the angel or star at the top, then placed the wooden manger scene that I bought the first year I was married at the bottom, carefully putting the light behind it.

I still use the old decorations, and I still have children to help me decorate. I derive great joy from telling my grandchildren how we made the decorations. And even more joy comes from getting out the paper so that they can make decorations of their own. It is all an important part of Christmas.

I see many beautiful trees each Christmas season, but none of them will ever meet the beauty of my Christmas trees. There’s something missing in the other trees. Love, togetherness, companionship and last, but certainly not least, the memories.

1 comment:

Aunt Dinah said...

One of the highlights of the year was decorating the Christmas tree with you and any of the other grandkids who happened to be around. I still have some of the old ornaments including some "chains" Kathleen says she made out of Grandpa John's old cigarette wrappers. I think she wants them back, but I'm not sure I can part with them. As I wrote above, you were so lucky to get to decorate two trees at Christmas!