Christmas Tree Trimming: 101

Tis' the Season

Christmas time brings joy and happiness to so many people around the world.  It is a time for giving to the people we love or those less fortunate, and a chance to reflect on another year come and gone.  While that is all well and good, one of the BEST things that the holiday season brings is the Christmas tree decorating tradition.

Now, everyone has their own way of decorating a Christmas tree, and there is no right or wrong way to do it.  It can be quite the intimidating task because we have so many decorating options to choose from…big vs. small lights, blinking vs. non-blinking, colored vs. white lights, homemade vs. store-bought ornaments, tinsel vs. icicles…the list goes on and on.  My family happens to proudly fall into the “small, non-blinking, white light, mixed homemade/store-bought, icicle” category, a tree decorating style has surely stood strong over the years.

When I was a kid, decorating our family’s Christmas tree was big event.  My dad was in charge of getting the tree in the stand and making sure it was straight (the least fun part…sorry Dad!).  Despite the burden placed upon him, my dad always did a marvelous job at getting that sappy sucker screwed in and upright!  Once the tree was properly placed and positioned the decorating could begin.  Decorating typically started on a Friday night, so that my mom could get the little white lights on first.  Each year I remember sitting patiently on our living room couch while my mom delicately and deliberately strung foot after foot of lights around our beautiful freshly cut, fragrant evergreen (ah that smell is heavenly!).  She had perfected her light stringing technique over the years.  It consisted of her stringing lights, stepping back from the tree, squinting her eyes to get the best view of the twinkling white lights against the night sky through our bay window, stepping back to the tree, redistributing lights to bare spots, stepping back again, squinting, and so on.  This meticulous process seemed like an eternity for a kid (like me) who was chomping at the bit to help hang ornaments.  But I sat, watched, and learned as my mom enhanced the tree’s blank green canvas with sparkling electric stars.

Ornament hanging usually came the next morning after a hearty Saturday breakfast.  Old beaten cardboard boxes filled with handmade, gifted, and passed down ornaments were scattered throughout the living room.  In the boxes, ornaments were individually wrapped in tissue paper with care from the previous year.  I recall unwrapping each ornament with excitement and anticipation, like I was opening the front door and seeing an old friend for the first time in a year.  Each ornament had a life and story of its own that would always come rushing back once their identity was revealed from beneath the tattered tissue paper.  The first ornaments to be hung were the shiny, glass icicles.  Long and lean, the icicles were hung from distal branches to ensure their freedom from encroaching branches below.  Glass icicles are the best because they reflect and expand the glow from the little white lights!  The rest of the ornaments we had collected over the years formed quite an eclectic bunch, including Rudolph the Reindeer made from clothespins, cookie-dough Santa, and a pull-string jumping jack (one of my favorites!) to name a few.  Hanging these ornaments was my favorite part.  As an adult, I don’t ever remember my mom being militant about where ornaments should go.  Perhaps that is because I knew the rules: fill in empty spots, spread the ornaments out as evenly as possible, and make sure they hang nicely.  She loved that I was involved, and I loved being allowed to help!  When all was said and done, we always turned out an extraordinarily beautiful tree (perhaps I am a bit biased!).

Fast-forward to the 2010 Christmas season, and many of our decorating traditions remain.  While my family is scattered throughout the states, I think it is safe to say that at least my mom and I are upholding the tree decorating decorum.  Tree in stand…check.  White lights put on at night (stand back, squint, reposition, repeat)…check.  Icicles on second…check.  Group effort ornament hanging…ehhh check, sort of.  If there is ONE part of the tradition that I need to work on, it would be to NOT be a Nazi about where ornaments need to be hung (sorry Babe).  It’s no fun to be TOLD where to hang ornaments.  Note to self for 2011 🙂

No matter what your tradition may be, one thing should be the same for everyone decorating a tree this year.  The end product should always brings you back to that unmistakable and wonderful feeling of being a kid at Christmas.


December 17, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Holidays.

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