Today is Halloween, so I guess late in the day it’s ok to begin talking about Christmas. I hate to do it because I like Halloween, and there is still Thanksgiving yet to come. A very important holiday. But this is kind of business related so here we go…
This weekend the antique mall where I have one of my shops is having it’s Christmas open house. I know, it’s very early in the year for that. Gotta give customers plenty of time to shop for Christmas items, and gifts of all sort. And I like all the festive feeling and merry making of the holidays.
Anyway, the owner of the mall asked all the dealers to write up a little blurb on our favorite Christmas memory. When I gave mine to her the other day she acted like I was the only one who had submitted anything. Too bad… I don’t really know what she’s planning to do with these stories, but it was fun to reminisce a little while putting mine together.
I have lots of Christmas memories. Good and bad. Favorite gifts. Funny events. Great experiences. I saw the Pope at eh Vatican one year. But one thing kept coming back into my head over and over. It was the tree. I’ve always had a live one. Sometimes so alive it needed to be planted in the ground after the season. And sometimes barely hanging on until its last needle turned brown and fell off.
Big trees and little trees. Firs and pines and cypress. Anything green. But its not just the tree that stands out. Its what we did to the tree preparing it for the holidays. Making it beautiful….
My favorite Christmas memory is not of one event, but of one that happens every year. And every time with a different result. No, its not like in the movie Groundhog Day where I get to come back over and over to do it again until I get it right. I get it right every time. It just turns out differently. I decorate he Christmas tree.
When I was a kid Christmas Eve morning meant going to the garage to grab the tree we had chosen and cut in the forest the previous weekend. It sat in a bucket of water waiting for this day. My dad and I would wrestle it into the house and get it set up in its stand.
After lunch I was given the honor of putting all of the light on its boughs. String after string I’d test the lights and replace burned out bulbs, carefully choosing the color to be placed in each socket. This was the old days wen bulbs screwed in and could be replaced. When one loose or missing bulb shut down the whole string. And when each bulb had to be clipped on to the tree branch.
After dinner we would break out boxes and boxes of ornaments and everyone in the family would carefully hang dozens of them. A very eclectic looking tree, just as the members of my family are very much individuals.
We’d go to a Christmas Eve church service and when we returned home the children would drift of to bed. Not to sleep though! My mother would then get busy hanging tinsel on the tree. Each strand carefully place to reflect the multicolored lights. She always told us that Santa Claus had put the tinsel on the tree. And the tree would remain in place until January 6th, the day of Epiphany. Thus, the twelve days of Christmas.
Now that I have my own family some of that has changed. I still do the lights, but now its much more a matter of shoving the strings into the tree, burying the lights deep to give a sense of depth. I usually forget to test them until after they are on the tree, and find that some work and others don’t. Or maybe I’ve strung them somehow I’ve sequenced the strings wrong so one has no power. But it always ends up beautifully lt.
And stays up for a long time. Going up right after Thanksgiving, we enjoy it all of December. The Southern tradition is that it must come down before New Years, which we observed of r many years. Now though, we put it up early and leave it up until the last needle is dried up and falls off. Well, not quite. It comes down in Epiphany.
Lots of other great holiday memories, but this one I get to refresh every year. To make it better perhaps, but always to make it memorable.
That’s part of my story. What’s yours?