Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oh Tannenbaum!

When I was a child, my parents had a very nice arrangement worked out with Santa. In addition to bringing our presents on Christmas Eve night, he also brought our tree. Imagine the wonder for two small children to go to bed in a "normal" house, and then to wake the following morning to a completely decked out, shining Christmas tree.

As an adult I am eternally thankful to those wonderful elves who made that happen, and wonder how they got thru Christmas Day on so little sleep - well, those were the day of afternoon naps! While some friends and neighbors put their trees up earlier in the month, it was fairly common on those days to wait until Christmas Eve, and even after Santa stopped bringing ours, we never considered putting it up a day earlier.

I remember well the first year that I was allowed to stayup after my younger brother was in bed to help with this all important job. It's those experiences that mold our adult traditions and provide the special memories that keep us tied to Christmases past. Perhaps that explains why trimming the tree is still my favorite activity of the season.

Many things have changed. Instead of the balsam of childhood, we now have an artificial tree - which actually has lights permanently affixed. And, instead of the ten-foot tree we used in our last house, we have a small six-foot tree. Sadly, when we down-sized the house, I had to down-size the tree. But large or small, real or artificial, putting it up is still a high priority.

Each ornament has a story. There are glass ornaments that I inherited from my Dad. They were on those well remembered trees of my childhood - even that first one that I helped to trim. Many are hand made by some of the finest craftsmen of the southeast United States - gathered when we made our living with our hands. Some came from trips we took together - the road runner, a map of Texas, the flamingos, palm trees from the Bahamas, and the kissing fish from San Francisco's Chinatown. The newest is an angel made from an oyster shell, walnut shell and Spanish moss.

Some came from friends old and new. Many are from natural materials - shells, wood, felt and a lovely poinsettia made from the scales of a gar fish. There are mini-collections of Santas and angels and many brass stars and snowflakes. A glass pickle for good luck. And, at the top of the tree a hand made tin and brass star.

Each piece is lovingly placed each year and, after the first of the year, packed away in paper for protection until next year.

Now that it's up and glowing, I can enjoy it for the next three weeks and remember all those wonderful trees over the years. This one can join a long line of great memories. Let the festivities begin!

Note: To see what other bloggers are doing this year, check out My French Country Home, where Sharon is linking to other trees. When you are there you will enjoy her blog.