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Monday, 17 December 2012

The Christmas Tree

By Jackie Harrison

My daughter and her family always gave up Christmas Eve at their home to join her father and me at the big house for Christmas eve and Christmas day. My son and his family usually arrived on Christmas day.

It was a sacrifice for my daughter's family to haul all the Santa things from out of town to our house. But family has always been important to us.

I can still picture the little ones scurrying down the stairs on Christmas morning to see what Santa left them under the tree.

We would wait until my son's family arrived on Christmas day to open personal gifts. I dressed in my red-and-white Santa suit, beard and cap and handed out the piled high gifts under the tree doing my "Ho, ho, ho" routine.

After my husband died and we sold the house, I moved into the two-bedroom condominium that I previously owned. There was no room for a large crowd except downstairs in the party rooms. Besides, the grandchildren had grown up.

I was in no mood to put up a Christmas tree since my Christmas was now forever changed.

My neighbors, even though they had no children, took great pride in decorating their tree with ornaments they had collected from around the world. They invited me to see it.

I saw Christmas lights from the windows of other condos up and down my street. There were two 12-foot high Christmas trees downstairs. However, putting up a tree still seemed unnecessary to me.

My daughter said, "Mom, you need to get a tree if only for you."

I had given all the ornaments that I collected through the years, even the hand-made ones from my mother, to my adult granddaughter. This seemed like a good excuse to forget about a tree.

Then one day I happened to be at Bed Bath and Beyond and spotted a fiber-optic four-foot Christmas tree on sale. I bought it and set it on a two-foot table draped in the burgundy blanket I received from the paralyzed veterans for my contributions to them. It was a far cry from the one at the big house.

This year I did not plan to decorate at all until I ran into a new neighbor, a young girl staying with her father while she is in college, putting a Christmas wreath on their door. She was so excited about it that I felt bad until I put one on my door.

This simple gesture inspired me to get out the fiber-optic tree. Just when I thought, "This is not that much trouble," the battery fell out of the box onto the tile floor and broke. I shopped everywhere for a replacement but I could not find one.

I was wondering if i should throw the tree away or donate it to the Salvation Army when I had a brainstorm to put tiny multi-colored and white blinking lights on it. I worried about a fire or short-circuit. I tried it anyway and when I turned the lights on, the tree became a big sunburst of lights - with no fire or short circuit.

My paralyzed veterans' blanket didn't look good so I searched for a cheap tree skirt. I wasn't about to buy an expensive one for this makeshift tree. I settled for a red tablecloth instead while reminiscing about the skirt I had made for the big house tree.

Then I decided I needed an angel for the bare top. My numerous searches were futile. "I don't think they make them anymore," I told myself.

I gave up and bought a star that was designed to slide over the tree top and change into four colors. It would not fit so I attached it with a rubber band and plugged it in.

It didn't change colors and the star bent forward giving the appearance of a leaning tree if one viewed it sideways.

People can see my tree through the sliding glass doors of my balcony. It looks upright from the outside. They can't see the tablecloth or the rubber band.

It stands about six feet tall including the table. It has a bright, one-color, gold star on top. It doesn't need any ornaments because it is a burst of lights - blinking little white lights with each little colored light "fiber-opted" to the size of a fuzzy silver dollar.

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Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Ah Jackie, time changes all.
Each Christmas season is different for us in our "twilight years."
I have no tree, except a new magnolia outside that I put red ribbons on and spotlights at night.
You made the effort and it sounds beautiful, because it is your own creation.

Jackie: I decorated my ficus tree with old ornaments and my cork screw willow branches with glass blown birds with plastic fiver tails plus some gold cut outs of the 12 days of Christmas. We must each do what moves us at this stage in life.

Loved it! Charming!
Arlene Corwin

Oh, yes, we do have to simplify as we get older--gone are the cookies, the home-made gifts and ornaments, the fancy wrappings. But we will always have our memories of those years, and our offspring do, too, to share with their kids--so it goes on!

I find that over time it seems to be more difficult to decorate for the holidays. It's so easy to get wrapped up in other things, but I'm glad you are pulling the holiday in toward you. Good deal. Enjoy your holiday thoroughly!

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