Friday, December 8, 2006

Oh Christmas tree . . .

I came home really pooped from work tonight so I won't do other decorating until tomorrow. Until then I'm just enjoying our tree. We've had so many different trees over the years. For awhile when the kids were very small my evergreen allergy went into hiding and we could have a real tree. None of those shaped and sheared way-too-full tree farm trees for us. In our opinion ornaments need to be able to hang on a tree rather than lay draped across the branches. Besides, as we've collected hundred ornaments over the years we need to put them several layers deep in order to get them all on the tree.

The first Saturday in December was our traditional tree outing. We'd bundle up in warm clothes, pack ourselves into the car and head up into the mountains. We could buy a tree cutting permit for $1 at the ranger station up toward Mt. St. Helens. We'd buy two - one for our Christmas tree and one for a tree to cut up and turn into garlands and swags. They also allowed us to cut branches - everything but cedar. The best Christmas trees were alpine firs whose branches were spread far enough apart to display the ornaments nicely. They grow in the high country up by the treeline, and a couple years there was too much snow for us to go that high. I liked to add Douglas fir, spruce, and hemlock boughs for the swags and garlands. We'd pack a big unch with lots of cocoa in a thermos, plus emergency blankets and provisions in case we got stuck in the show. We started doing this when Rebecca was 3 and Jeremy was still a baby in the backpack. We'd sing carols all the way up to the mountains - not that long a drive at about an hour and a half. I remember one year there was snow on the ground but not on the roads, and melted snow formed huge puddles along the road. I think Jeremy was 3 and Rebecca was 5. The kids started throwing rocks and snowballs into the puddles. When we had lunch and Jeremy got a little confused. He had his sandwich in one hand and a rock in the other, and when he let got he found he'd tossed in his sandwich instead of his rock. Always a child with a huge appetite, he immediately burst into tears. Rebecca did her best to console him, and shared her sandwich with him. Typical siblings - they'd fight like cats and dogs but inside really cared about each other.

The pictures are a few of the ornaments we've gathered over the years. From top to bottom: Ice skates and Santa boots crocheted by my mom - she crocheted bells also. One year Mom made mailboxes for us from plastic canvas to put rolled up bills in for our gifts. This was when she was in her mid-70's and didn't get out that much to shop. The next two are beaded ornaments made from kits I ordered from the Lee Wards catalog in the early 70's. I also did the first version in bright multicolored beads and sequins. The gold version fit in marvelously with the harvest gold and avocado green that was so popular in that era. I ordered the beaded elephant from a Frederick & Nelson Christmas catalog in 1970 - the second Christmas of our married life and the first Christmas we had a tree. My mom loved this ornament especially, and it always has an important front and center position on the tree. The beaded Santa boot is another Lee Wards kit. The primitive snowman was made by Rebecca in Sunday school. The date on it is 1979 - she would have been 5.

Posts like this are hard to space correctly because I have to think of enough words write to space out the pictures - if you know what I mean. I guess I'd better end this post and save the other ornament pictures for another post.

For me there is just something magic about a Christmas tree. Always has been. Since I was a small child I loved to turn off all the rest of the lights after dark so I could sit and gaze at the beauty of the tree with nothing else to distract my attention. We could never have it up for more than a week when I was little after 7 or 8 days I would be sick from the pollen. We had special ornaments that we loved and remembered all our growing up years - ornaments my parents must have bought before we were born. Unfortunately when my dad went into a nursing home in 1978 and mom had to clear out the house and sell it quickly many things were given away and lost to our family - including all the ornaments. I know it was a tough time for her - they had a place on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound and we lived too far away to help. It was a 6-7 hour trip - which included at least 2-3 hours waiting for the ferry boat. Hard to do with two preschoolers and only between Friday afternoon and Sunday to make the round trip.

Since we married we have collected new ornaments that are filled with meaning, and our kids cherish them the way my sister and I cherished the ones we had as kids. Every year I bought an ornament for each child - often something hand made at a bazaar. It was hard to part with those when they moved away and married, but we see them again when we visit at Christmas.

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Gratitudes:

1. Christmas family traditions
2. Favorite carols
3. Hot cocoa with a bit of peppermint schnapps
4. Red and white candy canes
5. Warm childhood memories

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19 comments:

Sandra said...

What wonderful traditions! Heading up the mountains to cut up your own tree is amazing to me, but obviously a tradition you all treasure :-) Unfortunately, most of the ornaments my children made were out of paper and have bitten the dust.

Anonymous said...

You've got the holiday spirit. I've been catching up onreading...you're home is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I love looking at other's hand-made ornaments. Not that there's anything wrong with purchased ones! LOL. I used to try to make a new one every year, but since I stopped doing that the pressure to perform is less. CarGuy and I used to go up in the mountains for our tree. Hot chocolate and Peppermint Schnapps is a really good warmup afterwards! *grin*

Anonymous said...

I love handmade and special ornaments. I have a few from my childhood I brought here in Ireland, and I collected ornaments on my backpacking trip that took me from England to Egypt in 1993, wooden animals from my trip to Kenya and Tanzania, special memories every year we hang the ornaments. This year we have some of Aine's ornaments to add to the tree!

Anonymous said...

I love handmade and special ornaments. I have a few from my childhood I brought here in Ireland, and I collected ornaments on my backpacking trip that took me from England to Egypt in 1993, wooden animals from my trip to Kenya and Tanzania, special memories every year we hang the ornaments. This year we have some of Aine's ornaments to add to the tree!

Anonymous said...

it is great to stop and reflect on all the elements of Christmas. too often we just let the holidays spill in and out of our lives
juliann

Judy said...

Oh Patti, I love all the ornaments and especially the plastic canvas mailboxes!! I have one for each year from about 1982 thru 1989. They didn't make it one the tree for the last few years. They are packed away for my hand-made tree. But I will never get rid of them! I used to have a tree in every room! Too much work now, but one day again.

I think all the special ornaments mean so much to a family. It tells a story all the way back to the beginning. I even have the first ornament I got that says Very First Chirstmas that hubby bought me the first year we were married!

Excellent post and beautiful tree!!

Anonymous said...

Memories of home! We always had lots of homemade ornaments also. Love those the best! I made and bought them for the kids and grandkids. My daughter in law remined me that I have gotten out of the habit. I think that was a hint! Your home looks lovely!You are getting me in the spirit!

Simonetta said...

Very beautiful indeed the decorations and your tree :))))

Nancy in MT said...

Gorgeous tree and ornaments Patti, I especially love the elephant, Nancy

Patty said...

Patti, I loved reading about your tree traditions but nearly fell over when I saw your elephant ornament. I had one just like that only the body was black, but it had the same beading. I got mine in 1973 in Harvard Square. Now I am going to spend hours wondering where it went to. I loved that elephant. Most nights Emery and I sit in the living room with just the tree lights on. Like you said, its magical.

Libby said...

What a wonderful collection of memories and ornaments you have. It's a little like travelling through time to see the different craft styles and materials.

Tracey @ozcountryquiltingmum said...

Love all the memories in your ornaments. Something so special about those handmade ones isn't there. tracey

Susan said...

I can't believe it! I have those same beaded ornaments from the Lee Wards' catalog! Mine are in magenta, though. How funny! I thought I must have been the only person who ordered them!

Thanks for sharing some of your special ornaments.

Carol said...

Patti...thank you for sharing those wonderful memories. I made those very same ornaments from the Lee Wards catalog but gave them all away as gifts...that was when we were first married and poor...couldn't afford the extravagent ornaments on ourselves. I look forward to more stories.

Anonymous said...

It's a wonderful tree, what they should be, full of ornaments with a history.

sewprimitive karen said...

How wonderful to go up the mountain to get your (real) Christmas tree and trimmings. All of your Christmas photos are wonderful. Karen

Tracey in CT said...

Love the ornaments! I've got about a dozen of those plastic canvas mailboxes on my tree, and I even have one of those boots, too! So many ornaments from my childhood, so much fun!

Happy Zombie said...

I loved reading about your trips up to MSH to get your tree. How cool that must have been!

I too like my treasures to hang vs lay! GMTA! Your home looks so warm, festive and full of love. I love the quilt on your dining room table!