Friday, December 3, 2010

Flashback Friday - O Christmas Tree

When you were growing up, when did your family put up and decorate the Christmas tree? Was it real or artificial? Who usually decorated it? Were there special decorations? What was on the top? White lights or colored, blinking or steady? How much did your family decorate for the holiday other than the tree (wreaths, dishes, snowglobes, miniature villages, etc.)? Did y'all do outdoor lights? White or colored, blinking or not? Are there special memories associated with decorating for Christmas?

We always had a real tree when I was growing up, and my dad was in charge of the whole process. (I never knew why my mom didn't participate; I guess she had enough to do with getting and wrapping the presents and other household duties. Plus she didn't absolutely love the process like my dad did.) I loved going with him to get it; we generally got it at Fed-Mart (a store in Houston way back when, which was sort of a precursor to WalMart). I was always eager to get one as early as possible, but it seems like we generally got it around the 9th or 10th of December.

Whenever we got home with the tree (wrapped in an old bedspread and carried home on the roof of the car), he would cut off the top 12 inches or so so the top of the trunk would hold the star. My sisters and I always got to take that top piece and make it into a miniature tree in our room; we'd hang tiny balls on it and even put a few icicles on it.

We always had the big multi-colored lights like this on the tree, and the only ornaments were balls. (After we were all grown, my folks did get an artificial tree, and my dad suddenly decided he liked all sorts of ornaments! But when I was growing up, it was just the balls. And of course, one would always break every year!)

After the ornaments were on, then came the icicles.
We always put a LOT of icicles on the tree. And as kids, we had to put them on One.At.A.Time. A lit star was at the top of the tree, and a white sheet was used for a tree skirt. Under the tree was a ceramic dog with a Christmas light in his mouth (plugged in with the other lights) and a toy piano.

Oh, and beside the icicle strands, we also had about twelve of what I always called the "hard icicles." I think I still have them, although I don't put them on my tree.

After decorating the tree, my dad and I would sit on the couch with all the room lights off and either George Beverly Shea's or Pat Boone's Christmas album playing. I got my love of all things Christmas from him!

We always had outside Christmas lights, generally just a single line of multi-colored lights around the eaves. It seems like one time he might have wrapped some around the evergreen bush at the corner by the porch. My dad loved pointing out houses that had pretty light displays as we drove to church, and at least once during the season we would drive around just looking at lights. Then the Energy Crisis of the 1970's kept people from putting out their lights for several years--such a sad sight! We were thrilled when people started putting up lights again. After my dad died, it was about five years before we moved my mom into Assisted Living, and every Thanksgiving I would put the lights on the house for her, and the process always brought back sweet memories for me.

The tree and outdoor lights were pretty much the extent of our decorating. There were a few cheap plastic Christmas-y knick-knacks that we set around the room, and after my parents got the artificial tree, they put a wreath on the door, too. They got really bold in their old age! LOL

Now it's your turn! Share your decorating memories and link up here!


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quilly said...

Wow! I can't believe I am first. Usually I am last!

We had the big lights on our tree, too. Because they burned so hot, and because we had wood heat, we almost never put our tree up earlier than the 15th of December. And Gram had that Pat Boone Album. She also had a Tennessee Ernie Ford Christmas album. We used to enjoy sitting with only the Christmas tree lights shining. Thanks for reminding me of these great memories. I miss my Gram.

Susan said...

Alright! I was directed here by Sara (Make Music From Your Heart To The Lord) and decided to jump on your bandwagon for this Flashback Friday. I've been blogging all things christmas for a month now and this is right up my alley! I'll post mine on my page and come back to link up. It's such a pleasure to read other folks traditions. I'll definitely be back to read the other comments and to follow their links! Like I said I'm madly addicted to blogging and fell in love with the "next blog" feature! LOL.

2nd cup Lid said...

sweet nostalgia--bittersweet.

Nanato4 said...

What interesting questions this week ... I can't wait to go read what everyone else's Christmas decorating memories are!

Lea said...

What fun this was and I completely forgot about those icicles! I thought they were the greatest! How far we've come! :o)

Blessings to you for a wonderful Christmas season!

Kathy said...

I enjoyed the trip down memory lane today. I guess most everyone used those glass balls that broke-- and white sheets for snow cover. I forgot to mention that! It was a simpler time back then, but in many ways I think it was better.

Thanks again for hosting! Have a great weekend :)

Barbara H. said...

Oh, you brought back things I forgot -- like the icicles one at a time, and we used to always take one evening and drive around looking at houses' decorations and lights, too, until the energy crisis.

Cindy Swanson said...

Your memories sound a lot like mine, Linda! We used those icicles too, but we would throw them at the tree. :) And those big tree lights! Whatever happened to them?

LynnMarie said...

Nice memories! We used icicles as well until the cat ate some and got really sick and they came out the other end..... That was the end of the icicles.

Jim said...

Thank you, Linda, for sharing. Personally, I think it is unusual for the dad to take charge of all the tree things. Maybe I shouldn't think this way because Mrs. Jim, her sister, and her Dad did all this too. That was before he died when she was seven.

You guys were very active. I think that is nice. We tried to involve the kids but I'm not sure that we didn't hurry things along more than what you remember.

bp said...

Fun fun memories! I am always so excited to get our tree and decorate it. This year I feel a little off about it, I guess b/c we aren't really settled here after our move yet and will be moving again but we don't know when.


I loved the walk down memory lane with you. We share a lot of Christmas memories.

Susan said...

I had to get myself a nice hot coffee and a big greedy piece of fruit cake to read all these memories! This was a lovely idea and so much fun reading them. I've barely made a dent in the blogs but I'm sure my face will pop up on each and every one of them because I'm so excited to read about everyones memories. Thanks again!