Christmas Memories

4 12 2008

fallenchristmastree

I just haven’t had much Christmas spirit the past several years. I’m not sure why–maybe the holidays were just more fun when I didn’t have to worry about buying gifts, was too young to care who’s feelings I might hurt if I didn’t get to see them, or when my metabolism allowed the holiday goodies to be a treat rather than something that would make my ass look like it had hail damage.

Christmas used to be my favorite time of  year. The smells, the sights, the gifts, the breaks from school. Now, I get a little burst of spirit when the decorations go up, and a few hours worth on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, but the rest of the season I am “Bah Humbug.” And I am apparently not alone. Already this holiday season I’ve seen several “Scrooge” postings in the blogosphere. I suspect I’ll see more as the pressures of cooking, shopping, and traveling take their tolls.

So I’ve been trying to get myself into the spirit by recalling those wonderful past Christmases. And I find that many of the best ones involve the Christmas tree and decorations. I’ve always loved a Christmas tree. As a child, we always had a real tree, and the smell of pine would fill the house. My mom (in her pre-crazy days) made almost all of the decorations for our tree while she was pregnant with my sister–snowflakes made of loops of lace, angels, small wreaths, and decorative bows. And even though these beautiful ornaments were ruined by the addition of gold metallic garland and the silver “icycle” drape of the 80’s, I always felt like everyone else’s tree–with their store bought bulbs–paled in comparison.

 Mom always waited til “the second weekend in December” to put the tree up, for fear that it would “dry out” if put up earlier. (A sensible fear given that she heated our home to near-crematory temperatures). While we were never allowed to help decorate the tree, save for hanging a few “special” ornaments, we always went to select it. It was always a blue spruce, always from the tree lot at our local drive-in restaurant,  and I had a knack for picking just the right shape.

One second weekend in December, mom, sister, and I went to get the tree. Having selected the perfect one, the folks at the tree farm strapped our tree to the trunk of mom’s Honda Accord (who thought THAT was a good idea?). Well, you guessed it. Not even halfway home, the twine snapped, and our blue spruce rolled off the trunk and into traffic. I burst into tears. But, save for a few broken branches, it survived.

Another year, the tree was up and decorated when we all noticed an the occasional scent of poo. After a day or so of accusing one another of fouling the air, we discovered that the tree had been dragged through dog mess on the way into the house. The decorations had to come off, the tree dragged back outside for a thorough wash down.

My dad and stepmom bought a new home when I was about ten…moving into it just before Thanksgiving. I had visions of a mammoth tree sitting in one corner of their two-story living room. “Too much trouble!” they said. But I secretly hoped every year that we could get the HUGE tree I dreamed of. One year, my stepmom and I decided to go to one of those farms and cut our own tree. Picky as I was, we walked all over the snow and ice covered farm trying to find a perfectly shaped one, only to give up when none satisfied me. On the way home, we stopped at a lot that was selling cut trees. The snow and ice that had fallen that day made it hard to distinguish the shape of the trees, but we found one that seemed full and shapely. We took it home, got it in the stand, and let it thaw for a few hours before we returned to find the ugliest Charlie Brown Christmas tree we had ever had. The now-thawed branches stood up to reveal holes, a lopsided shape, and way too much trunk at the bottom.

When I turned 16, dad left me his station wagon and enough money to go get the usual 7′ tree while they were at work one day. But I had other plans. Using some of my own money, I instead chose a 12′ beast that had to be delivered to our home on a flat bed truck. They weren’t pleased, but we already had the tree, so what could they do? The giant tree was decked out in lights and ornaments, and I was thrilled–it looked great, and I had the smug satisfaction of thinking I’d been right all along about what size tree we needed. Until a week later, that is, when the cat climbed into it and it crashed into the middle of the living room–breaking half the ornaments and dumping gallons of water all over our gifts. The tree was reassembled, attached to the ceiling beams with wire, and on Christmas morning we opened quite a few water-stained packages. I believe that was the last  year they got a real tree.

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16 responses

4 12 2008
The Incredible Woody

We always did a real tree as well. Ours always had the air of cheesiness to it – covered in nothing but our beautiful works of Christmas art from school or Sunday School or whatever, gold and silver garland, and icicles.

And sometimes angel’s hair. I’m not really sure what that stuff was but my mom would put tufts of it here and there on the tree.

We would make hot chocolate when the decorating was done, turn out the house lights, and sit in the glow from the tree admiring our work!
they repackage the leftover angel hair as spider webs at Halloween I think!

4 12 2008
Little Miss

Ah yes. The fun of real trees indoors. There’s a reason they grow outdoors and we don’t live under them. I love the scent of a real tree, just like a real fireplace. However, I’m a lot like my father these days. I’m happy enough with a video of a real fireplace and a fake tree. (I actually have a gas fireplace, so that’s okay – no cleaning required.) No tree this year. No mula, therefore no buying real or fake. 🙂 But that’s okay. All the presents are going under my daughter’s tree anyway.

The outside of your house has plenty of Christmas spirit, so that makes up for the no-tree.

4 12 2008
Tammy

Too funny! The tree with poo on it was the best story – but I’m sick and twisted that way. I haven’t had a real tree in years and miss that fresh pine smell… but the aggravation of having to put the lights on and off year after year… gah. Pre-lit artificial is the only way I go now.

I dont have a prelit, cause I couldnt find one with enough lights on it (my 8 foot tree has 1300 on it) All I remember of the poo tree was about two days of hearing “Did you fart?”

4 12 2008
cuteasasa

oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, your dog poo branches gag us….
Nice story VV. I found my self surprised by it. I honestly didn’t know boy kids got excited over Christmas, at least not about more than the gift getting part. Maybe they just hide it more than the squealing little girl kids.

oh make no mistake, at the time Im sure I was all about the gifts, but like most kids, the majority of the gifts were forgotten by the time spring came

4 12 2008
thegirlfromtheghetto

My god, the Christmas tree fight. Hubby and I are going at this right now. I hate the fake trees … but the mess with the real ones is horrible.

I laughed at the poop tree. Sounds like something that should have happened in my house. We only had a real one 3 times in my childhood, and all three times were wonderful!!!!

I have never had a real tree on my own. I usually travel a lot around the holidays, and so I worry about it becoming a fire hazard before I could take it down. A pine scented candle and my plastic fir tree will do alright. LOL!

4 12 2008
Liz

(A sensible fear given that she heated our home to near-crematory temperatures)

I am all too familiar with this… it makes me completely postal.

Are you sure we’re not related? Because your Mom sounds like the twin sister of my Mom. Good God! Surely there can’t be two of them in the world. That would just be so wrong. One year my Mom decorated our plastic Japonica tree, but luckily, we were convinced by her that it was beautiful. It was really awful.

However, we damn sure didn’t have doggy poo on the tree, lol. Gag!

Have you ever seen “Home For The Holidays”? With Holly Hunter & Anne Bancroft? That’s a pretty accurate portayal of holidays at our house when I was growing up. Minus the Father figure. Our holidays were always filled with guilt making and bad feelings evenly distributed to mainly me.

No, but now I want to!

Therefore, in my own nuclear family, we do lots of funny gifts and gags during Christmas. Why would anyone ever want to make others miserable on Christmas, by bringing up the past, or one’s shortcomings, or a million other things? To me, this sounds stark raving mad. Wacko Even.

I love the gag gift idea. My stepmother, who is a democrat, and her brother, who is very very conservative. Very. Anyhoo…they have a longstanding tradition of getting each other gag gifts. Last year, she bought him Al Franken’s latest tome.

By the way, I do buy a real tree about every five years or so, in order to remind the family of why we have a gorgeous fake tree. I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, you know. And I’m not going to be the one to hand pick the tree needles out of the carpet. Thanks anyway.

I can remember finding pine needles in the windowsills and under the sofa cushions year round!

Christmas is supposed to be fun, right? Right? Is this working?

4 12 2008
Big Hair Envy

Given our country way of life, I can’t believe that we NEVER had dog poo in our Christmas tree!!! (Jealous) Dad would go cut down the nearest cedar, and we couldn’t wait to decorate that stringy sucker!!!!!!! Sorry to admit this, but I LOVED the BIG colorful bulbs and the angel hair clumped around each one. I LOVED the tinsel that had to be placed “just right” so it didn’t clump……those really WERE the days:) Just ask my sisters!

I wouldnt mind a tree with colored lights now…and one of my stepgrandmothers (you’ll recall I have a bunch cause mom gets a new husband about as often as I get a new car) has the same COLORED icycles shes used every year since the sixties. She just scrapes them off the tree into a box and reuses them!

4 12 2008
Asthmagirl

Ahh… the Christmas Tree memories! We’ve wired our tree to the ceiling at least once! I haven’t seen a ton of humbug in the blogoshpere yet. I’m hoping to maintain an even keel throughout our holiday season!

me too! Im even hoping that some of the Scrooges come around

4 12 2008
Liz

OMG! She saves the tinsel off the tree? That’s the most hilarious thing ever. As disturbed as it would have sounded years ago, I’d venture to say that she’s doing her share to keep the planet green, lol.

My grandmother used to keep all of her nice department store bags under cushions of sofas and chairs. She also washed foil after using it and would reuse it until it crumbled away. When they were growing up, it wasn’t so easy to come by many things, I suppose. They certainly never produced as much garbage as we do today and they sure didn’t throw things away at the slightest whim. However, I’d guess that all generations produce the *bag lady* types who collect all types of oddities.

I’m thinking that we (the human beings) are standing on a precipice that is teetering on extinction… and I don’t mean global warming.

Ooops… Didn’t mean to go off on a rant. Or did I? I’ll never remember anyway…

do you think its because our grandparents had it tougher? or are we all destined to become odd old packrats?

5 12 2008
Big Hair Envy

You can’t buy icicles anymore. You HAVE to use the ones from the ’60’s. Bwahahahahaha!

Hope to put the tree up tomorrow. I’m almost excited.

Good luck! Pictures? I always forget just how long it takes to put the tree up…

6 12 2008
Jodi

Never have been a fan of the real tree. If for no better reason than I can’t justify killing a tree just for a month of personal enjoyment. I have 2 strong Xmas memories – one is the year, I was about 8 or 9, that my grandparents & aunt & uncle had come up for the holiday. It was Christmas Eve, the bar was closed, and we all piled into the car to go to town (Racine) and look at Christmas lights. It was snowing big fluffly sonowflakes – what I call Christmas snow – and the world was beautiful even without the lights.
We did our thing and came home to find Santa had been there. Now, to this day, I have no idea how else to explain it. There was no one in the building, everyone was in the car. Yet when we left there were no gifts under the tree, when we returned, there were.
The other is not so good. I was about 12ish, and I really, really, really wanted the really cool red cassette player. I did something – no idea what – and my Mom said my punishment was to lose a gift. First off I don’t agree with that as a form of punishment. She then proceeded, throughout the year, to use said cassette player in my presence. See, ur not the only one with a Mom that isn’t “quite right” My Mom was the queen of psychological damage. Luckily, between my Dad’s influence & my getting out early as I could, I didn’t get it too bad. My poor sister, on the other hand…well that’s a whole nother story…
bb
dawtch

6 12 2008
c

Those are good memories and thank you for sharing them.
i hope that the spirit of warmth will take hold of you, slap you around a bit and make you love it again.

We’re going to cut our tree down this Sunday.

7 12 2008
Tammy

I’m so glad it was poo and you didn’t fart – otherwise I couldn’t have awarded this badge to you. Come to my blog to claim it!

7 12 2008
The Vinyl Villager

Jodi…would you like an honorary membership in the Adult Children of Crazy Mother’s Club (ACCMC)? I think I’ve got almost enough folks to charter a new non-profit!

C–thank you! I went to a Christmas parade this weekend, and the spirit is starting to hit me.

Tammy–Yay! On my way over!

8 12 2008
Jodi

Where do I sign up..? Trust me – those are TAME examples of my Mom…like I said, I had my Dad as a buffer, and got out early, but sister actually has to take medication daily for anxiety & OCD (she used to literally scrub her bathroom floor with a toothbrush, a direct result, I’m sure, of my Mom’s ability to always find the one thing you missed when cleaning….)
bb
dawtch

8 12 2008
The Vinyl Villager

Jodi…Im not sure where you sign up. Maybe an application form is a good idea for a future post…
LOL!

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