Christmas Tree Traditions

By Betty

A tall, fat pine tree stands in a pail of rocks filled with water. In the center of the sun room the tree filled the air with the scent of pine. The glass doors were kept shut. There was no heat in that sunny room.

 The tree was decorated year after year with colored paper chains glued together every year. Popcorn was strung on a string with a needle and patience then draped around and around the tree. Silver tinsel was carefully hung one by one on every branch. Large glass covered balls were hung her and there.  When all was ready on Christmas Eve the candles –real wax candles-were lit.

Off in the corner the phonograph (wind it up to play) sent out the music “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, “Jingle Bells”, and “Silent Night”.

 Christmas came and went quickly long ago. No shopping malls and sales, no televised Christmas stories night after night. No big parties and no abundance of gifts. The church was our Christmas Eve.

 After Christmas the decorations were packed, labeled and put away. The tree moved outside where birds ate the popcorn and the bird seed we made shaped like bells. Even the birds enjoyed a bit of Christmas.

 Yes, we still have bits of faded paper chains, wrinkled silver tinsel, and big colored glass balls. But no candles! The stuff memories are made of.

 There is another Christmas tree memory.  For 30 years a forlorn tree was stored in the classroom closet. Each year it came out to celebrate Christmas is coming.  We folded a square of paper, cut gently into the fold but never across. Open it and there were snow- flakes we hung on our tree.  One year 32 six year olds baked cookies, frosted them, put their names on each, hung them on our tree. Another year we made clay picture frames to hang on the school picture. Every child had one to take home!

 Much thanks went to the gifted janitor, and the parents (yes, even fathers came in) who came in to bake or shape clay or fold squares of paper.

 Today my adult daughter puts the fragile, faded tree in her room. One year it was decorated with angels. Another year it was filled with nut crackers. Last year she covered it with snoopy ornaments. This year will be a surprise.

 One year it was even covered with tiny light so it glistened in the dark.

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