O Christmas Tree
Christmas tree traditions vary even within families. As a child, I was shocked to see my great-aunt’s tree with ancient glass balls, birds and large bulb lights on the spindly, bare branches. I’d never seen a balsam tree before, and it shook my idea of what a Christmas tree ought to be like. At the time I thought it was the ugliest tree on the planet. My great aunt loved it, though, since that’s all she’d ever had through her long life. Every ornament and light meant Christmas to her. I had to admit the fragrance was nice.
Balsams trees were common Christmas trees during the time period I chose for DOUBLE CROSSING – post Civil War era. Tiny candles were fastened on the branches—electric lights were invented just after the turn of the century but only the very rich could afford them.
We used the large bulb lights until miniature ones came out. Each year Mom would add more strands, from three to four to five and six. She loved the colors! Mom also collected traditional Santa Claus ornaments – handmade, china or wooden. I have expanded that tradition by choosing a pre-lit artificial tree (no needle-hunting, no sap stains, hooray!) with both white lights and multi-colors, with a remote to choose one or the other or both. And I have several Santa ornaments from Mom, plus a huge number of handcrafted ornaments from craft shows, friends and family.
Each and every one is special. My sister made the French-knot bear ornament and the needlepoint Santa, another sister made the ruffled wreath, a friend made the “mouse under the covers” nestled in half a walnut shell, my Dad carved and painted the wooden Santa Claus (and I have several others he made through the years), another friend did the tasseled petit-point ornament, the white felt dove and cute yellow teddy bear, and an aunt made the white eyelet/red berries ornament. I bought the smocked Christmas ball, since I don’t have the patience for that sewing skill, but love it.
One important thing I’ve learned about Christmas is to change things up—okay, maybe not the tree yet!—but other decorations around the house or outside. I decided that instead of being disappointed that I’m unable to hang the wreath or lights as expected, I am deliberate in placing wreaths or candles or small items in new places through the house. Or leaving them in the box. I’ll never regret losing the traditional Christmas “routine” – there isn’t one. It’s new and fresh every year. I’m sure one day I’ll downsize the tree and give most of the ornaments to my daughter.
But it’s not the tree, the lights, the ornaments anyway. There’s a reason for the season! It’s also about giving and sharing, memories of family and friends, and love.
Merry Christmas to all, and may your memories be refreshed each year.
Meg Mims is the author of Double Crossing – a western historical romantic suspense that has garnered 5-star reviews on Amazon. Enter the Goodreads giveaway! She also writes non-fiction freelance articles for real estate, lighthouses and history for various magazines.