Friday, December 9, 2011


Decorating the Christmas tree is a family affair, whether you choose a majestic tree that reaches to the ceiling, or make your own miniature model to place atop a table or buffet.

Set aside one evening just for this project. Maybe in your home it’s traditional to reserve this fun for Christmas Eve. Or, perhaps you put up your tree on a much earlier date, and invite friends to help string popcorn and cranberries, wire balls, or cut stars of paper. But whether you include friends or just your own family, make this occasion a real party, climaxed with carol singing and festive refreshments.

If you like, make your tree the old-fashioned kind – loaded with ornaments saved through the years. Or, perhaps you prefer the modern, themed tree – one with a definite color scheme, or one which holds just one or two kinds of ornaments.

You’ll find all kinds of exciting decorations in the stores, but don’t overlook the many pretty ones you can make from yarn, string, paper, and paint. Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Ideas, 1954

Don’t you love the way the editors of BHG state that decorating the Christmas tree is a family affair? Have you looked through BHG Christmas issues in recent years? Looks like the “just so” Christmas to me.

When I was working, I overheard a December conversation between two other employees in the break room. “How much longer do I have to put up with this?” said the first, a tone of frustration in her voice. “All the ornaments are on one branch. I don’t know what to do about it. Can I move them when the kids aren’t looking? It’s so frustrating. I want a nice Christmas tree.”

Today as I decorated our Christmas tree, I couldn’t help but think of the days when the youngsters helped. And yes, one little guy decorated just one branch. And when I began to insist on more balanced decorating, he quit helping. Maybe he would have lost interest anyway, but I wished for the old days today.

At the old family home, my dad put the lights on the tree and also climbed the ladder to hang certain special ornaments up high. Then he was through. Mother and I decorated the tree, but I remember one year when I noticed that she was mostly busy in the kitchen while I decorated the tree. When I mentioned that she had missed out, she said, “It’s all right. During the week I will re-arrange it.” I honestly never noticed.

When I was growing up, we made quite a few ornaments. I remember making them of Styrofoam balls and old Christmas cards. In the ‘70s, Mother began making boutique ornaments from kits, which she gave to her children and grandchildren at Thanksgiving. She also made felt ornaments and crocheted snowflakes. We each have many ornaments that Mother made.
I have enough ornaments to make an old-fashioned Christmas tree, but these days I keep it simple – Hallmark houses and a few other favorites. After Christmas, when Hallie and Nick leave, Mike and I will winterize the house and close it until spring. The tree I decorated today will come down quickly. 

Look at this beautiful December moon glowing in the sky as daylight wanes. KW


Leah said...

Yes, a tree decorated by the family is much better. Maybe it doesn't result in perfectly placed ornaments, but the time spent together as a family is what really matters.

My son & youngest brother came to my house in Dec 2008. It was rare for the 3 of us to spend Christmas together. The man at the tree lot told us that the ground was slanted under the tree we chose. When we put the tree in the house, it was tilting like the Tower of Pisa. It was then that we realized...the tree lot wasn't slanted, the tree was!

The boys worked on the funny tree, trying to level it, but all they accomplished was to keep it from falling over. It was a conversation piece and a tree that we'll always remember.

For several years in the 60's & 70's, I handcrafted my Christmas cards. Simple folk art designs: snowman, angel, crown. People told me that they put them on their tree as ornaments. I was flattered.

The comment by your mother, Kathy, is priceless.

Kathy said...

I agree that "the time spent together as a family" is what really matters.

I love your stories about the Christmas of 2008 when your son and brother joined you. They sound like a couple of characters -- you, too!

At the "Festival of Trees" sponsored in our community, one tree was upside down. I barely looked at it --didn't care for the concept. But I guess at auction it went for a lot of money.

Chris said...

Our trees have always been a hodgepodge of ornaments, from fancy to those with macaroni on them. To each his own, but I like the history I relive when we put the ornaments on. Dan does the lights and the garland and I do most of the ornaments, but he'll often put a few on, notably the ones from his childhood.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

Mmmm, the fruitcake looks delicious! (Forgot to add this to my previous comment, and then muffed up when I attempted to, and hence the delete above.

Hope you can follow, if not, chalk it up my general incoherence due to my cold-fogged brain.

Chris said...

Cold-fogged indeed--this fruitcake comment goes on another post. Sigh.

Kathy said...

That's okay, Chris. I'm confused about the posts anyway. If you hadn't said, I never would have noticed.

I miss my ornaments, but BHG online really has some good ideas for using them elsewhere in decorating.

I think it's wonderful that Dan has ornaments from his childhood. I was complaining to Mike the other day that we have so little from his childhood -- pictures, Christmas ornaments, etc.