"O Christmas Tree, o Christmas tree.."
Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas tree...
One symbol of Christmas I absolutely enjoy is the Christmas tree. Whether its fresh cut from a tree farm located off the beaten path, purchased from a grocery store that’s been drying out since early November, or purchased in a retail outlet promising spectacularly symmetric lights with features such as “twinkling” “blinking” or “flashing” written across the box to entice you to purchase it. Chances are you have one of those three sitting in a special room of your house as you are reading this blog.
During this time of year, I watch a lot of Christmas movies and I find myself pausing where it shows the Christmas tree. I like to look at the decorations from the fictional family members they chose to decorate with. Often its strings of popcorn for garland, a huge Angel or star on top and enough presents underneath it to fill a sleigh. I like to imagine one day having that perfect conglomeration of old school lights like the one’s Ralphie used in A Christmas Story, the icicle tensile from It’s a Wonderful Life, the present count to exceed those under Kevin’s tree in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and it would most definitely have the size of Clark Griswold's - “A little full, lot of sap” - tree from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. While this tree (for now) may be only a work of fiction in my mind, I feel like I have the perfect tree for me at this time in my life.
To each their own when it comes to “When” a Christmas tree should be put up. I know some friends and family begin decorating and putting up their tree mid-November, if not earlier. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, I applaud the effort, but for me and my family it’s ALWAYS the day after Thanksgiving.
A couple of years ago we purchased an artificial tree from Lowe’s. It’s a basic set up of three sections, pre-lit with both colored and white light options. One cool feature I happen to like is the step-on-it-button. I’m not sure what you really call it but all I know is its pretty convenient to step on a button and the tree lights up, I know, I know... I'm being “braggy” here, so I'll move on.
Overall, we have been quite pleased with it. Although there was that time last year when I got in too big of a hurry and put section two onto section three in the wrong way which meant I broke one of the connectors that caused the lights not to work in two of the three sections. As luck would have it though, my buddy had a soldering gun and another friend knew how to use it; therefore, I had my first attempt at soldering electronics. When I had finished, the bottom was white lights and the top two sections were colored...yeah. So, the easy fix? I just add a couple strands of the opposite colored lights on it and voila! A somewhat symmetrically lit tree!
Once our tree is assembled and I have tested the lights and added the necessary lights to make it look a tad more presentable as to uphold the Delk standard of Holidayum. Our favorite time of the season occurs. Ornament time.
We have a few sets of ornaments we play around with before getting to the good stuff. Julie and I enjoy our colored lights, so we bought this set of colored ornaments with just the right amount of glitter to sparkle accordingly. Those go on first. Those are spaced out about as evenly as we can without overcrowding. Next, we go to a different box, where each individual ornament is wrapped in its own piece of wrapping tissue paper. You know the kind, the white super thin paper you put in a bag so the gift your giving doesn’t look so sad. These are the ‘money’ ornaments.
The ornaments found in those sheets of paper have collected over four years of memories for our family, and even further back than that for Grayson. These are those personalized ornaments we get when take our annual trek to The Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge, or our latest vacation spot where we decide to invest in an ornament for a souvenir instead of a coffee mug we would never use. It’s the ornaments that Grayson, Conrad and soon, Jovie make in pre-school and bring home. It’s memories, on this tree that make Christmas time so special. These are the ornaments that when we unwrap them, we are transported back to past adventures with friends or family. These are the ornaments Julie always says the same thing “he was so little” when she unwraps them, you know the kind. These ornaments allow us to reboot ourselves on what you hold closest to your heart.
Each year, Julie has made it a point to allow Grayson to get an ornament of his choosing each year. It’s so much fun pulling these ornaments out and him say, “That was last years!” - referencing the Marvel superhero Black Panther, or “yep, that was mine!” - referencing Cars, Lightening McQueen ornament. This year he was able to go to a glass blowing facility and he made his own, now that’s what I call personalized.
Conrad was able to pick his own ornament out this year too. He and I went ornament shopping and would you believe it! Hallmark has superhero ornaments! On Sale! So... I mean...he couldn’t just get himself one – which happened to be Captain America. But he bought Grayson one – The Flash, Jovie one – Batgirl, Mama one – Wonder Woman, and me one – Superman. What can I say, the kid has good taste. Julie and I were so excited to be able to get out Jovie her first ornament this year. It’s a pink and white rocking horse. It hangs right in the middle 🙂.
Towards the end of the decorating, we come across the random ornaments that have made the tree from years past. Generally, they are met with humorous reminders of bad Christmas presents given to Julie by her students (she teaches third grade – side note, if you are reading this and gave her an ornament for a present due to her teaching your child, I'm sure it’s hanging on our tree right now...) or random works of art from Grayson. Currently on the tree are three not so symmetrical pieces of paper stapled together with a silver hook on it. It’s supposed to be Frosty the snowman, looks like he’s in the spring melt though. Trust me, there are several like that. I almost didn’t put some of those on the tree this year, then I met Julie’s gaze and Grayson’s puppy dog eyes...well, it’s Christmas isn't it.
While I am no expert and would never make it at Macy’s in their Christmas tree decorating center, I do have some bits of advice I would like to give on Christmas tree decorating:
1. Concentrate on what goes on the tree, not the status of it being real or fake.
2. While a theme tree is beautiful, make room for memories. Otherwise, your house will resemble Dillard’s, beautiful at Christmas time, but not very warm.
3. Encourage your kids to decorate the tree with you. My parents did that with me, and I’m grateful and thankful I can carry that on with my kids. (If you’re OCD about ornament placement wait till their asleep and go back and change it).
4. Start your own tradition and be consistent. No matter what it is, if it is making a handmade ornament each year or allowing your kids to pick one out on their own, make it special.
5. Enjoy the time. It doesn’t last forever.
If you haven’t put up a Christmas tree, I encourage you to do so. If you have, I challenge you with this. Turn the Christmas tree on and the TV off. Turn some classic Christmas music on and put your phone down. Enjoy the season, soak up the memories from the past and anticipate making new ones.