My two daughters and four granddaughters came to my house the Saturday before Thanksgiving to help me put up my Christmas decorations and tree. I usually don’t put up the tree that early, but who is going to turn down free help.
Actually both daughters and the oldest granddaughter helped. The other three rode around the yard for hours in the golf cart.
I have always known there are divergent philosophies about tree decorations, but I thought my children had tree decorating ideas similar to mine.
I’m not really picky about tree decorations. I have always said I put everything but the kitchen sink on my tree.
My husband has always insisted that we have a tree that touches the ceiling. You get one that tall, and you get one pretty wide. He always wanted a cedar tree, and for a few years that is what we had. But decorating those trees always left me with little scratches and red marks up and down my arms that itched for days. So we switched to a Leyland cypress; they don’t make me break out.
Just getting the lights on such a tree was a major accomplishment. It was my younger daughter’s job to untangle and check all the lights after Thanksgiving dinner. She is meticulous and did a good job.
Finding enough ornaments to fill the tree was also a challenge. You would be surprised what things look good on a tree, things that are not supposed to be ornaments. One year I bought several packages of sparkly butterflies with wire ties that were supposed to attach to ribbons on packages. They looked great on the tree.
Then there was always the Covington Flower Shop open house, almost next door to me. I could never resist buying some ornaments each year. I have ornaments from places I have visited -- an icon from Greece, a cable car from San Francisco. I have ornaments that my children made when they were little. I have ornaments that I have made when you could buy crafting kits with styrofoam balls with various sparkles and ribbons you would attach with straight pins. My husband’s brother gives us a White House ornament each year. I have that collection on the tree.
I don’t have a theme. I try to stick to a color scheme of red, gold and clear, but even that is not perfect. I hate to admit this, but I used to cover the tree with tinsel. I miss that tinsel. Can you still buy it anymore?
About 10 years ago, when my children were married and gone, we switched to an artificial pre-lit tree. We kept that one for about 6 years and then bought a smaller one, a 10 footer.
I still add lights to the pre-lit tree. In fact, my older daughter put herself in charge of lights on my tree. She put all my strands of lights that still worked on the tree and then decreed that I needed five more, a fact that necessitated a trip to the big box store to buy lights for me and for my daughter.
Once that was done and the lights on, we began adding the ornaments. Since I always have had a large tree, I have lots of ornaments. I really haven’t bought many in the past few years. I just keep using the old ones. (With the ugly ones to the back. Do you do that?)
We got about half the ornaments on the tree, and my older daughter said we were finished. Finished, I said. I am thinking to myself that there is not half the sparkle on that tree that there needs to be, and I have two more plastic bins of ornaments to get up there.
She tells me that I shouldn’t hang one ball too close to another ball and that the ornaments need to be spaced out decoratively. Meanwhile, my other daughter is circling the tree with several ornaments trailing from their hooks. She has yet another philosophy. She says she just looks for a hole and fills it.
The upshot is that we left the tree half decorated, they went home, and the next day I put as many ornaments on the tree as I wanted. It may be gaudy, but it’s Christmas to me.
Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.