Dec 10, 2018

Christmas Tree - becoming my father


My family’s Christmas tree was by definition the one at my parent’s house. The tree my father bought and put up. The tree he and my mom decorated with three generations of family ornaments. The hundred-year-old donkey and cart and drum went on last. The family ornaments included glass bulbs, plastic space-ships shaped ornaments from the fifties, hand-crafted ornaments made by kids, and shell ornaments from Florida. Much later we added a glass pickle.

My father was neither mechanical nor handy. He often bought trees that were too big. The trunk had to be cut and trimmed to fit in the tree holder and the top cut to allow for the fallen angel. Often Dad put the tree into the holder at an angle. Meaning our trees had a tendency to tip over. To avoid a tree accident, Dad took to wiring the tree to a wall, and a window or curtain rod using picture hanging wire. Rather than keeping the tree from falling, these safety lines resulted in holes in the plaster, broken windows, and torn curtains.  In Florida my dad bought a tree stand that he pronounced, “the best stand ever.” I used the same stand for years until I purchased one in California guaranteed to hold a redwood up right.

When my dad died, Lynette and I inherited the family ornaments and for a time the “family tree,” was determined by where my mother spent Christmas. 

Last year with the passing of my mother, there is no one family tree, there are half a dozen family trees. Each of these trees has a few of the older family ornaments, fragments, from a century of decorating one family tree.

For a time, our family was held together by my parents, by traditions like the family tree, and occasionally (like this year, 2018) with the help of a length of picture wire.

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