Some people get their trees the weekend after Thanksgiving, but I don’t remember our family being quite that eager. Usually sometime during the first week of December, we piled into the car and drove to a Christmas tree lot, no trudging through the woods with a chain saw for us. Despite my limited vision, I loved seeing beautiful Christmas trees lined up in neat rows. While my younger brother Andy ran around and got into mischief, I wandered among pines, touching branches and inhaling the sweet aroma.
After Mother and Dad found the perfect tree, we somehow managed to get it home, despite the fact we didn’t have a pick-up truck most of the time. Once home, I watched and Andy played while Dad got out the tree stand, and he and Mother erected the tree. Then, they attached the lights, first testing them on the floor to be sure they worked before stringing them on the tree. Dad sometimes had to run to the store to buy bulbs to replace ones that were burned out.
Once the lights were on the tree, the fun began, at least for me. I loved touching and looking at our wide selection of ornaments from balls to snowmen to the baby Jesus, some handed down from my mother’s mother’s mother. Mother showed me how to attach the hook on each ornament to a particular branch. She didn’t care where ornaments were placed as long as two of them weren’t on one branch and fragile ones were on more secure branches. Andy sometimes helped, but most of the time, he did his own thing while Dad sat nearby with his nose in a book or newspaper.
When all the ornaments were in place, Mother flipped the switch, and I watched in awe, as the tree lit up. I gazed at our wonderful tree and wondered what gifts would be underneath it Christmas morning.
On New Year’s Day like clockwork, Mother was ready to take the tree down. Since Dad and Andy always had better things to do, I helped her disassemble everything. I loved our ornaments and didn’t mind taking them off the tree, putting them in their respective boxes, and helping Mother put the boxes away until the following year. Then she managed to haul the tree out to the alley to be picked up with the next trash collection.
When I grew up and moved into my own apartment, I didn’t bother with a tree or other decorations since I could still enjoy these in my family home. After my parents separated, and Mother moved to Story, about twenty miles north of my home town of Sheridan, Wyoming, I didn’t do much with decorating, but Dad and I spent Christmas Eve and Day with her. By this time, Andy was living in Colorado, and he and his family often spent the holiday with us.
After Bill and I were married, we didn’t bother with decorating. I’m not sure why. When I first met Bill, he was living in Fowler, Colorado, and when Dad and I visited him at Christmas time before he proposed to me, his house was decorated, and he said, “Let’s kiss under the mistletoe.” I thought he was joking. You can read more about this in my new memoir.
Now that Bill and my parents are gone, I don’t bother decorating the house. Besides, I don’t have room for a tree. I have a few ornaments I’ve collected over the years that I put out if I think of it and can find them, but that doesn’t happen often.
What do you remember about tree trimming in your house during the holiday season when you were growing up? Have your decorating habits changed now that you’re an adult?
I leave you now with a song to get you thinking about that Christmas tree. Happy decorating.