Monday, December 7, 2009

a christmas tree story.

When I was growing up, a Christmas Tree was serious business. My mother was most adamantly against fake trees, thus we made our way as a family to a nearby commercial lot and picked a suitable tree for our living room. Achieving the desirable height was imperative, it needed to be free of any major holes, or at least have a very good "good" side. Dad sawed off the bottom, wrestled it into its stand and then we all looked on while he tried to get it straight. Once it was up and in place, his duties were complete.

It was then that mom took over. She was (and I believe still is) in charge of the lights. When I say serious business, I mean it. I'm not sure anyone was as meticulous as my mother when it came to getting lights on the tree. They were always white, much classier than those colored ones. She started at the top and made her way around, through and down the branches making sure the lights were evenly spaced and in their perfect places. I used to wonder if it took her hours to do this as we would arrive home from school and she'd just be finishing.

Once the lights were in place, we were allowed to assist with the ornaments. We never had a themed tree. We had a fantastic collection of ornaments, each possessing a wonderful memory that we relived each year as we hung them. They were unique and beautiful we loved pulling them out of the boxes finding our favorites. In true tree-decorating fashion, mom taught us that the smaller ornaments always hung near the top of the tree and the large ones near the bottom. Those of the same color never resided next to each other and we hid her least favorite ones around the side of the tree.

Our tree always looked fabulous. White lights made our whole living room glow. It was only natural that when I had a tree of my own that white lights and unique ornaments were the direction I steered. I have the inner urge now and then to go a more contemporary route and swallowed my jealousy when Katelyn got a very cool tree, but Denten is a traditional fellow and this time of year, tradition is not so bad. I must say that even with a few years of practice under my belt, my light job is nothing near my mothers. In fact, Denten volunteered to do it this year knowing that I wanted to do it but was stressing out about getting it just right. I was happy to hand off the job to him. However, attorney-work has been all-consuming lately and after a few days of a naked tree in our living room, Cooper demanded lights. He was a lovely assistant and I got the the job done.

And then rather than evenly spacing precious decoration around green branches, I sat down. I opened boxes and handed ornaments to my three little ones. They, and they alone, adorned our tree. The top half is very sparse, the bottom heavy laden with glass balls and ornaments. It made me fight against all that is natural in my soul to go rearrange them, putting the small ones at the top, highlighting my favorites front and center and making sure they were spaced well. I took deep breaths and did my best to relinquish my Christmas Control.


dec 2009

Seneca rearranges the display daily. Her favorites are my collection of handbags. Beckham explores the different textures of the ornaments and likes to see himself in the shiny ones. The large cluster of glass balls? That is Beckham's masterpiece. Cooper plays the part of the sheriff, making sure no one touches the tree... sometimes they listen to him and most of the time, not. He's old enough to remember favorites from last year and get excited to tell me where they came from.

The final product is all theirs. Except that they used my treasures to create it. I requested that Cooper put my New York ornaments up higher as one was shattered last year and nearly broke my heart.

kids and tree

It's not a traditional masterpiece, but it's Ours, created by Mine and the little white lights still make my living room glow.

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10 comments:

Joni said...

It looks perfect.

Stephen & Kendra said...

Oh I just love this post. It almost makes me want to cry although I have no idea why. I can picture your mother's perfect tree and I am sure it was amazing. But I love that you were able to let your kids be a part of it and enjoy it too and it's still beautiful. I am sure the memories will be so great for them. The pictures at the end are so precious with the glow on their faces. You are an amazing mother Amberly. I love you.

The Hunt's said...

Love this post. It made me so nostalgic, took me right back to my favorite ornaments. I go through the "should we go real this year" debacle every November, I think once we're actually home for Christmas a real tree will grace our home, although my white sparkle I think will still have to be somewhere in the house as I have grown attached to that as well. And maybe when that happens I could try and relinquish Christmas Control, maybe, I get a bit stressed just thinking about it.

The Hunt's said...

PS-While we're on the subject of christmas tree memories, how about the year lance soffe put a hole in the ceiling. classic!

Tutz said...
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Steph said...

Love it. Its a lot like our tree, except my kids are getting taller and thus can reach higher! ;)

Jana said...

I love the smell of a real tree. But hate the clean up. We decided to go fake. . .but NICE fake. And I have to say. . . my kids would seriously love to have you for their mom come time to decorate the tree. There is no way I could sit back and let them have a go. I have MAJOR o.c.d. :)The whole time we were decorating, I kept secretly replacing the ornaments they hung. How horrible am I!!!!

kimmalee said...

Love it. I miss my mom's tree as well. I love my own tree...but my mom's holds so many of my childhood memories. You little babes faces look so beautiful lit up by your tree.

Amber said...

I love looking at your pictures

Natalie said...

Our tree is quite heavily laden with ornaments at the bottom, too. Looks beautiful!