Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Oh, Christmas Tree

I am way overdue to Christmas-ize our home. When I was a kid, we were never allowed to put up our decorations too early. Though, oddly, I can't remember my mom's exact rule. Was it no holiday decorations until the week before or two weeks before Christmas? I honestly can't recall. What I loved though is that we always kept the tree up until Epiphany (Jan. 6th). And even though, as a kid, I was always annoyed that all my friends had festive trees and decor on the home front long before me, as an adult, I've pretty much kept to my mom's prohibitions (even if I can't remember the exact time frame).

When it comes to our Christmas tree, every year I like to drag out the same old stuff I've collected over the years--including the tree. I love the idea of a fresh tree, but hate the idea of cutting down a living thing for that purpose. Also, I like the idea that the same tree can spend so many happy times with my family. My particular fake tree is a skinny six-footer that I bought in the after-Christmas sales at Target more than ten years ago for less than five bucks. It's nothing special, but once it's decorated, it warms my heart with its loveliness.

And the decorations I've had for years. Ornaments from childhood are my favorites, those that bring back special memories of loved ones still here and those long gone. They're reminders of happy Christmases from long ago, those days when we had so much less, but never seemed to notice. I'm lucky to have hand-made treasures from friends and special children. Each year they're carefully unpacked and put in a place of honor. And the best part is the angel. When I was about four, my mother made a bunch of angels for a charity bazaar and kept just one. My angel is small and made of burlap and gold ric-rac with a friendly painted face that I have a vague memory of mom painting at our dining room table in those far-away days when we lived on Mackinac Island. Every year that angel looks down from the tree top with a kind of sweet benevolence. It reminds me that there are moments when, indeed, my mother is still here.

My tree definitely has no contrived theme. No matching color palette of carefully placed garland, ornaments and bows. On my tree, nothing matches and that's just the way I like it. The course of my life is the only common thread that unites its elements. Every little oddity has a story, a tree of tales you might say.

My big change this year is that I'm going with the larger, multi-color LED lights. They remind me of the big colored lights that we had when I was really little (before it was revealed that they were burning down people's homes and my parents hastily got rid of them). The new lights are more environmentally friendly. So, while things are much the same, we're greening up the Christmas tree a little you might say.

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