The Allure of the Tree

Andrea here, musing about the allure of the Christmas tree. I was traveling for the two weeks right before Christmas Eve and decided that I would have to forego a tree this year because it would turn brittle and lose its needles without the regular watering needed to keep it in fine fettle. A rational decision, perhaps, but I was a little surprised at how much I missed its presence when I arrived home.

When I was a kid, decorating the tree was always a highlight of the season. My family would take turns adding an ornament at a time. No tinsel was ever allowed. Just lights (no little fairy lights but the old-fashioned bulbs in traditional colors)and ornaments. All of us had favorites, and it was always fun to see much-loved friends appear year after year.

But as happens, kids grow up and family traditions change . . . my Mother kept all the boxes at her house and for years she would decorate a tree with the same ornaments for when we came for our Christmas visits. When she passed away, the boxes got divided between us, and also shared nephews and nieces who wanted to have a sweet memory of their grandmother.

I eventually decided to make my own tradition and found a collection of wonderful wooden snowflakes a while back that together with my blue and silver ornament balls make up the annual look of my tree. (I find that I like a simple, minimal look.) That its familiar twinkling of good cheer and wonderful scent of pine is not there to add a festive touch to the remaining Yuletide evenings this year makes the season a little less bright.

How about you? Do you have a tradition of putting up a tree? Do you have childhood memories of Christmas trees past?

 

11 thoughts on “The Allure of the Tree”

    • Kareni, your “jumbled” tree sounds wonderful! Love the shell and fiber idea. The great thing about Christmas trees is that all are unique and have a special vibe of their own. I appreciate looking at ALL trees.

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  1. My parents were in the nursery business, one way or another, for many years. My father and my three brothers ran a Christmas tree lot for several years, which entailed meeting the trains at Union Station at four in the morning to unload fresh trees, and a trip to the floral district downtown to buy ribbons and trim. I was considered too little and useless to help, but my mom did things like make and decorate the fresh wreaths and swags at home. Our house smelled like a pine forest.

    My mom wanted a perfect tree and was rarely satisfied with nature’s efforts in that direction. So for our own tree she’d make sure it was turned to the best angle, and if it had empty spaces, she’d wire replacement branches onto it. The tree would look really good for several days, but pretty soon the replacement branches, which were getting no water, would start to brown – but I knew to pretend not to notice.

    My dad worked also in the studios and would bring home odds and ends of set decorations and such. We had ornaments , vases and such that had been used in movies and then discarded. My mom would also do a Santa scene on the fireplace mantle, with Santa and the crew flying in a blue foil sky. I still have his reindeer and sleigh.

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  2. Definitely have to have a tree every year! My daughter loves Christmas and everything about it and even though she lives away from home now she always comes home for Christmas. This year I went to collect her and it means me staying over for a night. When we got home my husband had the tree and all the decorations and he had done a much better job of it than I ever did! We have a mixture of new and old decorations on the tree. Some were even made by my children in school and that’s along time ago now 🙂 Can’t bear to part with them.

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    • Teresa, kudos to your husband for having having everything ready for your arrival! What a lovely surprise. And how wonderful that you have such cherished ornaments that your children made in school. I can imagine that they are special beyond words.

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  3. Way back in the dark ages we had those bulky lights you had to put on the tree first. I loved putting on the ornaments and hated hanging the tinsel. To make it go faster I’d put a wad of it in my hand and throw it at the tree. Unfortunately it didn’t hang right and Mom would make me do it “right.” To this day I do not put tinsel on the tree!

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    • Ha,ha, Pat! I’ve never been a tinsel fan either. I like seeing the “real” tree with it branches filled with ornaments against the lovely dark needles.

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  4. Andrea, we always used to have a real tree, often one my dad had grown, and for me, the gorgeous piney smell was an integral part of it. But my sister hated the way trees dropped needles and when my parents grew old, she got one of those fibre optic ones that was white and glowed with different colored endings. I hated it — so soulless — and without the gorgeous smell. But she was, by then the controller of Christmas and I was just the baby sister. 🙁

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    • Oh, Anne—hugs on that soulless tree. The whole point of a Christmas tree (IMO) is its personality—and yes, its wonderful pine scent! It’s meant to have a personal connection through the choice of ornaments, and it should make you smile because of the memories it conjures. An artificial electric tree is, for me, the antithesis of that spirit.

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