Finding, recording Christmas traditions and stories
I heard a story recently about a Christmas tree decorated with real candles. In years’ past that’s how they did it – real trees and real candles – possibly a combustible combination. It was a great story and one that will be handed down through the family for years to come.
In our home, the tree goes up on or near Thanksgiving and comes down soon after Christmas. We think it looks boring after the gifts are gone. My wife insists that we begin placing gifts under the tree as soon as possible instead of waiting until Christmas Eve. Growing up, we waited to place the presents because we kids just had to peek.
Our tree ornaments in my childhood home were re-used each year. Little clay figures made at school, paper chains, popcorn strands – it was very much a kid’s tree. As we got older, the decorations became more decorative than historic. Now, at home, we have no historical ornaments – just those that look nice. It’s a big decorative tree which puts us all in the holiday mood.
As we pass our stories down through the generations, our story will be of putting up our not-so natural tree – making sure it won’t fall over ( with wires screwed to the wall studs) as we inherited a very large tree which needs extra help. It can be used as a seven-foot tree or – when we lived in a home with a higher ceiling – I would add a pipe to the bottom along with spare branches to make it 10-feet tall. Two or three additional support wires were required to keep it upright.
Our current tree is fake – just green, not flocked. My personal favorite would be a flocked real tree – a blue spruce in a perfect large Christmas tree shape. Okay, I’m not so sure about the flocked part. I do love it, but also hate the mess it makes. A favorite winter sight is a perfect pine tree covered with snow. Take that into the house and I think it would be just great.
When we were growing up, our trees were real every year until I was about 13. Then, my mother decided to go with a huge flocked fake tree. It was beautiful the first year. The second year we needed to respray it with a few cans of white flocking as the original had turned yellow. No one wants a yellow flocked tree.
Holiday memories can be so vivid. Trees, ornaments, gifts, parties and more are all part of our family history. Whether or not we record each celebration, these occasions are still part of us.
The picture here is of my nephew little Thomas, four months old. No doubt in 20, 40, 80 years this picture will speak a thousand words for him, his wife and kids – and grandkids. A picture like this can remind you of many memories – but to have all those details written down in a journal, a personal history or a photobook can mean as much if not more than the thousand unspoken works that a picture may inspire.
This year – as you gather round your tree, make sure to listen, take pictures and most importantly record the stories about Christmas past as told by your parents, grandparents and other loved ones.