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Monday, December 12, 2005

O Christmas Tree

My mother has four Christmas trees in her house. (Lighted trees, she would point out. There are others sitting on tables and such decorated with sparkly retro earrings or candy canes and apples or, whatever.) And all of her trees have themes. The 10' tree is hung with dolls -- small porcelain dolls, mostly, but others as well. People ooh and aah as they stand and look at all the different dolls, and add to the collection.

One is covered with small hand quilted patchwork ornaments. (She's a gifted quilter and has had quilts in magazines and art calendars and such.)

Etc., etc., etc.

But my favorite tree? The one of my childhood.

When I was little we had one tree. Always real, of course. And a study in perfection. This is the tree by which all other Christmas trees must be measured, and must fall short.

The bulbs were the old-fashioned fat kind. All red.

All the ornaments -- every single one -- were identical.

Fat shiny red balls.

Tied on with perfect bows of red satin ribbon.

Silver icicles shimmered from the tips of the branches, in perfect strands.

At night I'd stretch out under the tree in the dark, and bask in the red glow, and listen to Firestone record albums. And Goodyear. Wasn't it Goodyear? Or Goodrich? Some other tire company. Everything from the Vienna Boys' Choir singing "Carol of the Bells" to Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme. The Julie Andrews Christmas Album where she sang familiar lyrics to unfamiliar (British) melodies.

I've never tried to match that tree. My tree is a jumble of colorful ornaments my kids made, cheap ornaments I've bought at Target and the grocery store and expensive ornaments I've bought on vacations. I like the fruit-basket-turnoverness of it. The non-perfection of it, if you will.

But deep in my heart I know my kids were deprived of magical red light and shadows.

And it's my mother's fault, for getting tired of tying all those damn perfect red satin bows.


At 8:24 AM, Blogger pooks said...

I'm going to have to start doing a search for "and such" and eradicate it from my vocabulary, damn it.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Candace said...

Perfection? Umkay... but I'm thinking OC, OC, OC the whole time I'm reading about it. But at least it's better than what my ex used to do: put a "bah humbug" sign in the front yard lit with a single white bulb. I really prefer the kind of tree you have for your kids. Sort of American Gothic AND SUCH.

At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You made me do it.

I absolutely could not help myself; I did a search and find (search and rescue?) for "and such" through your whole blog. You used it four times in two weeks. So what's the problem? (Talk about OC. :D)

I wouldn't have noticed it had you not mentioned it. Maybe I would have caught it had I been critting a ms, but I'm not even sure of that.

Your mother's trees sound lovely. I have one smallish pre-lit one, different from yours only in that I never had children to make ornaments. But I've had cats and friends who gave me cat ornaments. And lots of heart ornaments from back when we both were writing romances. Remember that?

AncyKate, and such.

At 12:09 PM, Blogger pooks said...

It was such a perfect tree because it was simple. Not flashy, just pretty. Red and green with silver shimmers. (happy sigh)

She's not OCD, she's just organized and probably a frustrated artist -- her artistry has always been manifested in her home, her cooking, and in recent years her quilting. I think when she discovered quilting she found her calling.

Ancy, come on up and you can see it! (And you don't know how many "and such"es I have deleted when writing these things!)

At 9:58 AM, Blogger SeanclaesDOTcom said...

Your mother's trees sound like wonderful artwork.

Your tree and my tree are fairly similar... like a scrapbook of who's important in my life and where we've been.... mixed in with the obligatory "ball" ornaments to fill in space. Like Christmas walked by after one too many shots of 'nog and threw up all over it... it's awesome.

At 10:25 AM, Blogger pooks said...

Okay, I'm stealing that line.


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