My niece sent me a photo of her lovely Christmas tree and I was overwhelmed by its beauty and her talent for creating it. I have also seen many trees on FB that would be right at home in a NYC art gallery. I am intrigued by the various themes and styles of the trees. I love their lights and ornaments and colors. And while I admit that I think I have the talent, art training, and patience to create a gorgeous tree, it is just not one of my priorities, so I am sorely lacking in the motivation to do so. I suppose that comes from a long history of focusing instead on the gifts that go under it.
There was always a nervous tension in our house during the holidays and we knew from an early age that there would not be many presents under our tree. I recall a few years when we were told that Santa just had so many boys and girls to make gifts for that his elves couldn’t keep up. Later on we became aware of our financial status and learned not to expect miracles. But to my parents credit there was always something fun and entertaining and appropriate under our tree. And there was always fruit and nuts and candy in our stockings. The tree however, was an afterthought.
I remember a couple of trees that were simply cut from local wooded areas and decorated with popcorn strings and paper cutouts. Once we waited until a couple of days before Christmas and bought a leftover display tree from a lot. Another time we got one from my grandmother. My favorite tree was an aluminum one with a colored light wheel that illuminated it. I don’t know where we got it, but we kept it for several years after that.
Gary and I have had a variety of Christmas trees during our forty+ years of marriage. Some years I’ve put a little more effort into them, but most years they have just been a place to pile up the presents. One year we had guests who brought their tree with them for the week. One year we had a tree that touched the ceiling and had to be trimmed. Other years we have had trees so tiny they really couldn’t hold more than a handful of ornaments.
My ornament collection is far more important to me than the resulting tree. I don’t care if they “go together” or that some of them are strange, clashing colors. Most were made by my children or given to me by family and friends. Of course many of them are elephants. Some years I drag them all out and look at them even if they don’t all make it to the tree. Other years they stay packed away. This year is one of those years when I just haven’t had the time or motivation to do a lot of decorating. Our tree is a simple Norfolk pine that I hope will live for several years. It is decorated with red balls and bows. No lights, no stars, no other ornaments this year. But it still makes me smile. And no, I haven't taken a photo of it yet. This is one from a few years ago.
Christmas should be about joy and tradition, gratefulness and generosity. If creating a gorgeous tree brings you joy and is a part of your tradition I’m all for it. Especially if you share the results with me!