Thirty years ago, Honey and I put up our first ever Family Christmas tree. We had been together for six years. We had always had decorations in our house (Honey is very crafty) but we had always spent Christmas Day somewhere else. Having a tree was not really a necessity in those early years. When IT Genie was born things changed and by his second Christmas we were starting the annual tradition of the Family Christmas tree.
We went out that year to the local Service Club’s tree lot in early December and bought our first tree, a six and a half foot tall Blue Spruce. Now I’m a city boy and I could not tell you the difference between spruce (green or blue) or fir or pine, they all look like Christmas trees to me. Honey knows the difference though and when it comes to special occasions she know what she wants… so I paid the $55.
Then it was off to the mall (the Big Box store had not been invented yet) and bought a tree stand, garland, tinsel and decorations, so by the time we arrived home my wallet was lighter by another $250. We unpacked the car, dragged the tree into the house, spent twenty minutes trying to figure out how to put the stand together, put the tree in the stand and cut the wrap away, then waited for the tree to thaw out and release its branches. I won’t waste your time explaining the relationship between tree height and branch span but I will say that after the branches dropped I needed to get my hand saw out.
It was also very apparent that the few glass ball decorations we had purchased were going to do very little to cover the tree. So Honey and I called a few of our friends and invited them to an impromptu tree decorating party. It was a BYOB/BYOD party. The D stands for decoration. About 10 people showed up and everyone brought at least one decoration. Some were store bought and a few were handmade. None matched anything that Honey had bought for her envisioned tree but each was given with the spirit of the occasion in mind and the fact that we had a toddler. They were placed on the tree and after more than a few glasses of libations, the tree looked splendid to all.
For the next few years Honey and I would invest a few more dollars on glass balls and throw a decorating party with the BYO caveat attached to the invitation. Our collection of ornaments increased over those 3 or 4 years that we held our shindig. Every year the ornaments from previous years were joined by new ones and the number of friends increased and in some cases changed but their gift ornaments remained.
Honey and I moved from the big city, our priorities changed and geography became an issue and like too many relationships in life those friends faded away but their ornaments remained with us and continued to adorn our tree every Christmas. The ornament tradition continued though, all be it in a different form and for the next two decades when friends were invited over for a Christmas libation or two, they were given the BYOD (I was now supplying the booze) instruction. Honey had long ago stopped buying glass balls as there was becoming less room for them.
It took many years but after a particularly nasty Christmas tree purchase I was able to convince Honey to invest in an artificial tree which were now cheaper than a Blue Spruce and didn’t die too early, dropping a carpet of needles that were continually stabbing you any time you got near it. This went against all her traditionalist values but I think that year the tree we had bought drew blood from her on more than one occasion, so she relented. The next year when the tree was decorated the glass balls that we had purchased twenty years previously never came out of storage, there was no longer room for them on the Family Christmas tree.
Five years ago we asked our friends to stop bringing decorations. The tree in our estimation was maxed. Honey had taken the time one year to tag each ornament with the name of the people who had given them to us and the year they were received. A few of the items have not survived or had needed to be discarded for health reasons (the dried up hot dog with nail polish lettering took on an ugly green colour), but for the most part the donated decorations have survived. Every year when the tree is put up, and taken down, the names are read and memories relived. Memories of Christmas’ and friends gone past.
This year I placed something new on the tree, it sits on the very top. It was never intended to be a tree decoration but I felt that it somehow belonged amongst the varied assortment of bobbles. A reminder of new friends and good times gone past and yet to come…
Merry Christmas to one and all.
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