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The tree and the person...

Posted Sunday, November 25, 2007, at 9:45 PM

In all my Minnie years of trimming the Christmas tree (and there have been plenty), I've made a few observations and one thing I've noticed year after year is this...you can tell what a person is like by looking at their tree.

Take mine...a nice conglomeration of this and that, of Old World ornaments (that's fitting, I know), and grandchildren's kindergarten projects, gifts from various friends and children with dates etched in most, lots of handmade ornaments and lots of glass and some rusty tin and a green fragile glass one that says, "God Bless our Irish Home," and some wonderful hand painted Santas and glass blown ones and some really tacky ones that I just don't have the heart to throw away. There is garland of red woody beads and cloth tiny wrapped packages on a string and a patchwork-quilted angel on top, overseeing the menagerie. And there are a couple thousand little white lights. I always start out winding them around and very strategically placing each strand, but by the time I'm done I'm literally shoving the things into the branches and hoping for an end and betting they'd stretch to L.A. and back. The entire tree is a depiction of its owner from bottom branches to top---an unorganized hodge-podge that is me.. the ornaments are as scattered about in variety and placement as my thoughts are on a minute-to-minute basis. It's a work in progress, thrown together with thoughts all over the board and the branches, just like its designer. But, at the end of the day, it all seems to come together with a goal or two having been accomplished, in spite of the lack of design or preciseness of it all.

I've seen trees of all gold and a deep wine color and they're exquisite and beautiful, much like their owners. Every branch is carefully planned and orchestrated and the end result is perfection. That organization seems to follow the person's lifestyle, with every plan and item in place. I so admire those people and with each new year, I vow to be more like them, but life always seems to get in the way.

Occasionally I see a tree that is way too commercial, all plastic and uniform without much personality and really no unique qualities to call it one's own. Much like the owner...a bit distant and cold...not a real fun person, I'd predict!

Theme trees are big this year and the Christmas shops are full of them. There are fishing trees and country trees and ballerina trees and sports trees. Some are quite beautiful, but all are very expensive and a bit too predictable for me.

I'll just stick with my this 'n that tree that seems to work for me and in the meantime, I'll continue admiring all of the organized works of art around and about.

Minnie o'

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No, no. That's not sappy, garden girl. Your grandchildren will look back on this time every time they open their boxes of ornaments. They may not use all of them all the time, but their eyes will fill and they'll smile as they remember their Grandma. Keep it up.

-- Posted by Ducky on Thu, Dec 13, 2007, at 12:52 PM

I, too, have the hodge-podge, potpourri

style tree. My children even ask why I

keep all that crap, but I suspect they're secretly glad to see those remnants of their childhood. I buy an

ornament for each grandchild and date it

each year, so when they set up housekeeping some day they'll be ready

to decorate. Is that sappy, or what?

-- Posted by gardengirl on Wed, Nov 28, 2007, at 2:02 PM

I must be nuts, b/c my tree has been up since the beginning of November. It used to be our tradition to trim our tree on Thanksgiving evening...but w/ each company my husband has worked for has come more and more missed Thanksgivings...although he didn't even miss this year. The year I went tree happy a bit too early.

We have our first "married" Christmas ornament that my dad had made for us at Wal-Mart w/ our wedding picture on the ornament. And my 1st son has his ornament for his first Christmas, which is an adorable little Precious Moments w/ the space to write his birth facts. I have some antique Avon ornaments that were my grandma's (one is a ceramic wreath w/ the year I was born in Gold). My 2nd son does not have his own ornament, which is a trajedy. The year to be his first Christmas, my husband got laid-off 16 days before Christmas, and we couldn't afford to get him one. The 1st one being missed, we still aren't sure what to do.

And I have learned in my few years as a parent and wife that traditions are great, but shouldn't be so used that they get old and boring. New traditions should be made. I guess this year, me being the first person in Dexter to put up my tree kind of fit that bill!

Christmas trees have so many meanings, feelings, and traditions, that I think a menagerie is what they should be. A themed tree has no feeling or meaning...other than that of a theme.

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Tue, Nov 27, 2007, at 10:49 PM

Kindred spirits! Birds of a feather! Blog buddies to the death! All for one and one for all! Tippicanoe and Tyler, too! Don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes! Geronimo!!

Skinny Cows on the house!

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Nov 27, 2007, at 8:33 PM

As we speak, I have been inspired to recreate the simpler times.

My boyfriend and I are hanging my tree upside down.

I thought of you GL,as I came home today to find my cat dislikes my little Charlie Brown tree,(her house,her rules),thus the need to get it up.

I think this has been such an ordeal, I too will leave the tree up until it's no longer funny,or the weight of dust bunnies threaten to destroy the roof beams- April sounds about right.

I promise I will think of you often as I pass by.

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Tue, Nov 27, 2007, at 6:10 PM

Wow, Ducky, that was a cool Christmas story! Your daddy was a very sweet, wise man!

Yellow Rose, your year-round tree reminds me that one of the reasons I probably won't hang up my tree this year is that I usually don't take it down until about April!

However, my tree is not upside down. It's just UP.

Does anybody know if you can roast horse chestnuts on a fire? Well, I'm sure you can roast them, but can you EAT them afterwards??

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Nov 27, 2007, at 5:47 PM

The best tree I can remember was when I was in high school in Alabama. A girlfriend and I went on our horses to an area owned by a paper company. Yes, we were probably trespassing, but they had such nice logging roads - just right for horseback riding. We found what looked like a small little pine tree amid the thousands of giants. We cut it down, tied it on a big sheet of cardboard from a refrigerator box and dragged it home with our horses.

My dad viewed the tree with considerable dismay because while it looked tiny in the forest next to the adult trees, it was by no means small. He had to cut more than a foot off of the bottom just to get it into our house.

My younger brother and I decorated pine cones and sweet-gum balls with glue and glitter and tied them on with thread. We strung popcorn and holly berries and Daddy brought out his goose-necked lamp to shine up on the tree. We pronounced it magnificent and the best tree ever.

Christmas Eve Daddy would read the story of Christ's birth from the Bible followed sometimes by the Dickens "Christmas Carol." It was mostly a very quiet, family time in those years when the three of us made a little fractured family. It's odd that the brightest memories are from those years rather than the earlier ones when the whole family was still together.

Those simpler times created the memories which sustain me during this now vastly commercialized consumer holiday. God Bless us every one.

-- Posted by Ducky on Tue, Nov 27, 2007, at 12:58 PM

In college,the best tree I ever saw was the one we left hanging all year-upside down from the ceiling (star fully glued on,as were the Christmas ornaments).

Every holiday,no matter how obscure,got "ornaments",with really funny pictures,wicked sayings,obscure "facts" regarding whatever holiday was on the tree.

I remember one Christmas where some clever pre-law wrote an affadavit to the facts concerning the case of State (representing) Grandma v. Santa Claus,Inc.Reindeer,and any elves party to this action re: Wrongful Death.

Valentine's Day was great because any singles would put up their favorite Valentine,usually a celebrity or billionaire,like an adopt-a-family at Christmas. How Brad Pitt stays single after some of his Valentine messages I'll never understand-lol,along with the heartfelt desire to be the future ex-Mrs.Donald Trump,Bill Gates lovechild (inheritance to be negotiated).

I still think it was the best tree ever.

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Tue, Nov 27, 2007, at 12:06 PM

If I put up a tree, it really has to be "up," which means hanging from the ceiling, so my cats can't get to it!

Haven't decided if I'll go to that trouble, since I'm by myself. I may think outside the box and find a way to have the lights to cheer up the season, without the tree.

We used to go cut down a cedar tree up on the hill every year, and the kids decorated it with homemade ornaments, popcorn garlands, and those red berries from a wild bush.

The more ridiculous the ornament, the better the kids liked them! They even fastened pieces of old toys to styrofoam balls.

Even before I had children, it was a holiday tradition for my younger brother and sister to make ornaments when they came to visit me and my husband at Christmas time.

I prefer the homey trees. Uh, oh, does that mean I'm "homely"??

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Nov 27, 2007, at 6:44 AM

It's my hopes that when my children (and myself) are older that I could have such a beautifully described tree.

My husband and I have only been decorating a tree of our own for about five years. There only seems to be one particular ornament that makes it's way back to the tree every year. It's one from our first Christmas living together, that we had inscribed with our names and the year.

I think this would be a great tradition to start with our children. Letting them pick out an ornament every year. Then as we get older, we should have a very sentimental tree.

Ours this year is (finally) a pre-lit tree (white lights), with red velvet bows dressing the branches. A gold star atop, and red and gold ribbon streaming down.

It's simple, yet beautiful all the same.

-- Posted by sc1120 on Tue, Nov 27, 2007, at 12:06 AM

Totally sympathetic. I still use some ornaments my nephew made more than 30 years ago out of bread dough. Some have died the death of many old bread dough objects d'art but the Santa with the big black stripe across his eyes is hanging on. Maybe this year I'll dig him out of the box and send him to the nephew to share with his children. Or - maybe I'll ask the nephew to get his kids to make me some new ornaments to put beside the old Santa. Break out the bread dough!

-- Posted by Ducky on Mon, Nov 26, 2007, at 12:57 PM

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