It has been a while since I posted. We have been catching up on all the stuff that didn’t get done this summer and fall. I just didn’t feel like I could do anything Christmassy in the way of decorating or even much cooking (except what was absolutely necessary) until we got our house in order. Most of the decorating and cooking happened in the last couple of days before Christmas. This is very unusual for me, but then it has been an unusual year. (As we approached Christmas, I felt as if it should really be Thanksgiving!)
I never realized how important my decorated trees (7 or 8 themed trees in an average year) where to other people’s Christmas traditions. Our good friends came to dinner and asked, “Where are all the trees?” They were disappointed. My daughter-in-law looked puzzled and wanted to know where the trees where as well. I proposed that she and my daughter help me get the trees decorated, and they readily agreed. So we decorated trees together, and I baked cookies and prepared Christmas dinner over the space of a couple of days. I still don’t have most of my Christmas cards out, but I figure I have until Epiphany to accomplish that task.
Here are some of the trees that I put up each year with a couple of small new ones that hold the nucleus of new collections of Christmas ornaments. This plastic tree started out as a joke and has become one of my favorite trees. I couldn’t stand these tacky plastic decorations when I was a teen and helping my grandmother put up her tree each year. I thought they were just plain nasty. I preferred German and Eastern European figural glass at that time. (I now have a 7-foot tree’s worth of German and Czech glass that I put up one year in five.)
Never underestimate nostalgia.
Many years later, I was standing in the checkout line at a St. Vincent De Paul Christmas sale with my cart full of glass ornaments when my eye fell on some plastic bells and baskets. They were still dreadful, but I found myself drawn to them. They were familiar and it felt good to look at them. I picked them up cheap and have been buying additions at garage sales and thrift stores ever since. This tree is packed three deep and I still think we could fit in a few more.
My 1940 and 1950s tree, which I call “The WWII Tree,” is probably my favorite with its bubble lights and glass bead garland. I have a lot of elves (which I don’t really like, but I can’t imagine a tree like this without them—nostalgia again), bottle brush wreathes, pine cone birds and people, Shiny Brite, and those printed ball ornaments that no one seems to value on this tree. My favorite ornaments are those produced during the war when all forms of metal were being diverted to the war effort. The resulting ornaments are clear and painted or stuffed with sprigs of tinsel. I’d like to find some late-war ornaments with the brown paper caps. (Everyone seems to have picked up a few except me!)
My old-time tree with the Christmas scene (I’d put the correct term for the “Christmas scene,” but it is now considered a rude word, and I don’t want to attract any more unwelcome search engine attention then I already do!) under it grew out of a fad for faux feather trees (I picked this one up at a garage sale for $3!) and my collection of old ornaments for the WWII tree. I gradually realized that I had enough 1900 to 1930 ornaments to do a theme tree of that era. I later added the candle holders, vintage candles, and glass bead. My husband would like me to get rid of this antique sewing machine, but I don’t think I ever will because it is the perfect foundation for one of my favorite trees.
This little snowman tree grew out of my love of snowmen. It is also one of the easiest trees to put up. I store it in a closet with a plastic bag slipped over it. It goes up in a hurry and is the perfect size for the bathroom counter.
Over the years this tiny tree that sits on the living room hearth has held the nucleus of my new collections. This year it is decorated with painted mirror ornaments that I picked up at a local antique mall. Arranged underneath it is a small (but growing) collection of wax and vintage plastic.
My foil and Mylar ornaments have just graduated from the tiny faux feather hearth tree ($1 in an upwardly mobile neighborhood sale) to the slightly bigger bedroom tree. A friend gave me the large ball lights in their original box! I have a lot of foil and Mylar light reflectors that are not on the tree this year. Next year, I will add a string of white lights to this tree to showcase my growing collection of this trimming.
My hand-shucked craft bead and plastic canvas tree did not go up this year. I just didn’t have the room or the will, but next year it or the plastic tree will appear in the living room, and the WWII tree will be set up in the relative safety of the study until my grandchild has passed through the grabby stage. She sure enjoyed the trees this year, especially the bubble lights!