I love decorating my Christmas tree. My tree has never been the normal commercial tree everyone seems to have. When my children were small, I hung candy on the tree. Not just candy canes, I had strung gumdrops. They are really cute on a tree, but a huge pain to string. I had lollipops hanging. There was a local candy
store in St. Louis who made perfect beautiful oval lollipops, and their colors were see-through and wrapped in clear cellophane. I taped a ribbon loop to the back of the lollipop, and hung them like an ornament. I also purchased chocolate coins, wrapped in gold foil. For those I used a small needle and threaded through the top of the foil to make the loop to hang. I made sure the foil was closed good in the back so it wouldn’t fall out. (I won’t go into the story that one of my sons carefully unfolded and refolded the coins and ate all the chocolate before Christmas, to the disappointment of his brothers–and me)! I tied a ribbon to a twisted pretzel, added a hook and hung them from the tree. I also strung popcorn, but thought it was rather plain, so my popcorn strings were actually 4-6 popcorn, 2 or 3 cranberries, repeat, repeat, repeat! Of course, my ornaments started out with Hallmark character ornaments.
My Christmas tree has simplified over the years when it came to candy, but was still unique. I have always used multicolored lights. One year, I decided to go with all clear lights. Wow, that was a mistake. Four young adult and/or teenage sons were so disappointed that I changed the lights. They said my tree looked like everyone else’s tree, and please don’t make that mistake again. So, the next year I went back to multicolored lights. Buying artificial trees have been pretty difficult if you are a fan of multicolored lights. I hunted down and found a beautiful artificial tree with the correct lights. A few years later, I went to put my tree together, and the center of the tree was missing. I was heartbroken. I loved that tree. I was so heartbroken that I didn’t even want to put up a tree, but my daughter-in-law knew that would not make me happy. She showed up at my house with an old artificial tree and lights, and she proceeded to put up my tree. It wasn’t the tree I wanted, but she saved my Christmas! The following year I was surfing channels on the television, and QVC popped up with a deal of the day of a 6’ pre-lit artificial tree that had both clear and multicolored lights. Not only that, it operated by remote control, and the price was reasonable. I immediately ordered it, and it was a magnificent tree for many years.
My first grandchild was born 22 years ago. As Christmas approached, I was looking forward to this celebration with my first grandchild, although she would be only 3 months old. I purchased two ornaments for my tree that year. The first one was a “Baby’s 1st Christmas” ornament, and the other was an ornament with her photo in it. That began a new tradition which I love to this day. Every year I purchase an ornament for each of my grandchildren. Their first 5 years, I also do a photo ornament. As they grew, I searched each year for an ornament that is about their current interests. Once in a while, I make my life easy and just get a cute traditional ornament. Each ornament has their name printed on it along with the year. When the grandkids come to visit, the first thing they do is go to the tree to see what kind of ornament I got for them that year! When they are all grown up, out on their own, and ready to have their own Christmas tree, I will pack up all their ornaments and give to them for their tree. In the meantime, I get to reflect over all the ornaments for them each year.
Another tradition I started was to purchase ornaments for the many places I have visited on vacation. My tree has ornaments from Yellowstone, the Queen Mary, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Niagara Falls, the Golden Gate Bridge, Carlsbad Caverns, to name a few! Every trip I go on, I add to this collection. Just the other day I purchased an ornament of the Alamo.
My tree also has Mardi Gras beads. I had a beaded garland on the tree, and the Mardi Gras beads hang on the limbs downward, giving the tree a bit of a gypsy look. I have an alligator in the tree (each year the grandkids look to see where it is hid). I have 2 American Flags in the tree. I received the first one when I made a donation to help restore the Greek Orthodox Church that was damaged in the 911 Attack. I have early Hallmark Keepsake ornaments going back to the early 70’s that were my mom’s. I have old musical ornaments that are strung on an old string of lights because it’s the only way they will operate. When my tree gets turned on, all of them play at the same time—the Statue of Liberty plays the “National Anthem,” the space ship counts down to blast off, the chickens cluck “Jingle Bells.” It’s so funny, because they all play at the same time. My singing chickens are dying, and I cannot find a way to open the ornament to do a repair. I will be very sad when they totally quit clucking “Jingle Bells.”
When I got married and moved to the country, I brought all my Christmas decorations with me. Our living room has 20’ ceilings, and a 6’ Christmas tree would look dwarfed in the room. We purchased a 12’ pre-lit tree. The only problem with the tree is that it only came with clear lights. That would not do, so we purchases strings of multicolored lights and wired them to each section, so that there are approximately 3,000 lights to the tree. That tree is covered with memories. Every ornament is wrapped and packed separately, and every year, as I unpack them, memories come flooding back of my family—my parents, my sisters, my kids and grandkids. My tree will never win the prize for the most beautiful tree, but it might win the prize for the most fun and memorable tree!