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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's Up and Decorated

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for annex tree

There are those who would say putting up your Christmas tree before December 1 is a no no. I, however, think no tree should go up before Halloween; the orange is just not a Christmasy color. November 1st is Christmas-Tree-Putting-up-Day at our house. It helps that now we have an artificial tree; before we had to keep watering the thing and sweeping up the needles. By Christmas Day our tree often looked like the one Charlie Brown and Snoopy had.

Tree-putting-up-day now starts with a family discussion on where the tree should be located this year. Placing the tree in different rooms and different places in the room helps us remember what year it was. When the children were younger you could tell the year by the placement and kinds of decorations. If we had a toddler in the house, all the decorations began about two feet up the tree. The next year, as the toddler would then be in the terrible-twos, the decorations moved up the tree two more feet. Later as the children grew and wanted to help, most of the decorations on the seven foot tree were concentrated in the middle with none at the top and only a few on the bottom (to allow for more presents).

This year with no toddlers, the tree will be in the living room between the two sofas. That decided the hunt was on as to where the tree was stored last year so it could be retrieved for this year's placement. I used to store everything in the hall closet. When Christmas decorations exceeded the size of the storage space, I stored everything in the upstairs bedroom; however, the rickety attic stairs made it difficult getting the bins and tree box down. Since my knees were more rickety than the stairs, last year some of the decorations were moved to the barn, some made it back to the hall closet, and others migrated up the rickety stairs again. It may be February before we find everything.

At first it was easy to put the artificial branches into the tree pole. Everything was color coded and there was a diagram as to where each color went. After a many years, the colors began to wear off the ends of the branches and the color coded diagram somehow got separated from most of the tree.

One year we fortified ourselves with plenty of eggnog before attempting to assemble what was basically a jigsaw puzzle tree. That year was easy to remember because our tree resembled one of those biological cross pollinated experiments gone bad, sort of a Bonsai topiary.

The next year we decided to forego the liquid refreshment and assemble the tree first. We measured each branch, retaped each with the appropriate color of tape and made several diagrams of the colored coded branches in order to assemble it into some semblance of a Christmas tree. Now we can actually start assembling the tree on November l and have it finished by November l… of the same year and have it look like a Christmas tree.

Putting our tree ornaments on the tree for us is more a trip down memory lane than any kind of thought out well planned HGTV Design-on-a-nickel aesthetically pleasing design statement. Fifty years of tree ornament collecting and eight children's school made ornaments have left no branch tip unadorned. Once I tried to cull some of the faded construction paper Santas, the Popsicle stick reindeers, and the plastic/paper mache apples, but the creators of said decorations declared it wouldn't really be Christmas without them on the tree.

Some of our adult children have set out on their own life's journey that doesn't always allow them to be home for Christmas so when I look at the tree and see their ornaments, I think of them and wish them a Merry Christmas across the miles. As the five-year-old and the nine-year-old continue to add their decorations, I'll just have to add an annex tree. No way will I leave off those memories for the future.



Sharon said...

Wonderful story, touching with enough humor not to be maudlin. Child-made ornaments are always better than store-bought.

Marti said...

That was lovely, Jody! Tender and humorous - you are such a wonderful writer!

I hope you and your family have a spectacular Christmas!