There simply are not enough hours in a day during the holiday season. Decking the halls alone is a full-time job, not to mention shopping,wrapping, and baking. My favorite part of all the hoopla is decorating my Christmas tree. When we moved into our current house (with high ceilings), I knew the time had come to indulge in a dream of mine – to have a tree like those at the Biltmore House or the White House.
After my son and my husband wrangle it down from the attic and we get it standing straight and tall, I spread out its branches and begin the process – lights, strings of berries and beads, and finally , the best part, hanging the ornaments. I start with some shiny red and green balls, placed inside the branches, adding depth and color to the display. Then one by one I greet each old friend, the ornaments that tell the story of our life. Beginning with our first Christmas together in 1976 ( I have dated ornaments for each year – 37 Christmases so far), to our newest, a bright Scotsman we picked up while in Scotland this summer.
Our ornaments reflect the different stages in our lives, such as the birth of our boys, and our two grandchildren, and thus, a grandma’s first Christmas ornament, given to me by my friends at work. It is important to remember the giver of the ornament because that is what makes them special.
We also have ornaments that reflect our interest like scrapbooking, reading, baseball, playing tennis (this one given to me by my friend, Lisa, back in the eighties when we were dedicated tennis players. We even played in the winds of hurricane Hugo as it passed on its way to Charlotte. It was the most hysterical game of tennis ever played, I think, as the ball would make right and left turns on its way over the net!) It’s memories like these that the ornaments evoke in our minds and touch our hearts with fondness.
We have a hand painted ornament of our last house given to us by our friend, Debbi, to mark our first Christmas there. We have handmade ornaments from family and friends and some I made myself. The handmade ornaments bring back memories of a time when the children were young and my friends, Denise and Shirley and I would get together for tea and work on our ornaments. Happy memories of days gone by. And I treasure the ornaments made for me by the mothers of the students I taught.
The Christmas tree is much more than the place under which we pile presents for family and friends. It is a record of our lives, a reflection of what has been important to us during our lives , a repository of memories fondly recalled, and each tree decorated around the world every Christmas is as unique as the family it represents. The tree is the center of each gayly decked hall, and be it the size of a Biltmore House tree, or one which graces a table top, or even one as small as a Charlie Brown tree, it is cherished nevertheless. And whether it carries the memories of 37 wonderful years together, or the first of many memories yet to be made, may your Christmas tree light up your life and warm your heart this holiday season.