Every year, after Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to put up the Christmas decorations. And every year, I find myself with fewer and fewer of my little helpers to deck the halls of my home. I suppose that as time goes by, there will be a new group of little helpers to spend that special time with me, but for now, I’m hoping to have at least a couple to help on Saturday with my Christmas decorations. Either way, I will get my decorations up this weekend, because there are only so many days to get it done, and I must make hay while the sun shines…as the old saying goes.
Thinking of the decorating ahead, takes my thoughts back to the times that my family decorated our house when I was a kid. Things were very different then. I don’t recall putting up the Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving, but it might have been about that time. What I do remember is my four sisters and me and our parents decorating the tree, while we sang Christmas carols and ate popcorn and other snacks. It was a big deal, and none of us would have missed it.
I remember the fanfare that led up to the decorating. We went to the lots to purchase our tree…because there weren’t any artificial trees then. We brought it home and Dad cut the excess length off so the tree would fit in the house. The fragrance of the pine filled the house, and made everything so festive. Mom and Dad would string the lights and garland. Then it was time for my sisters and me to start putting up the ornaments. Mom and Dad taught us to carefully place the ornaments to create the most beautiful effect on the tree. I’m sure that our training took time. Nevertheless, with patience and practice, we got pretty good at it. One thing that eventually went by the wayside…in most families I think is tinsel. As you can see, we all had a handful and were carefully placing it on the tree, but no matter how careful you were, that stuff always ended up on the floor or tangled in the tree branches, which wasn’t a problem with a real tree, but definitely a problem in an artificial tree.
It didn’t matter how old we were. From the oldest to the youngest, even if the youngest was only 2 years old, we decorated the tree. It was so much fun. In fact I think we looked forward to it all year. Traditions are that way. Once you start them and find them to be a lot of fun, you wish you could do them every day, but I suppose that would get boring after a while, so it’s a good thing they only come once a year. As I think back of those traditions from my youth, I feel a bit sad, because all too soon, those days are gone, and we can never get them back. We must move forward, start our own traditions, and accept the changes that have come, because that is what life is all about…whether we like it or not.
As we head into the Christmas season, my mind wanders back in time, to when I was a child, and Christmas was drawing closer. Mom and Dad loved Christmas, so the tree went up as early as possible. Decorating our Christmas tree was always a big deal. Of course, back then, we had a real tree, in fact I don’t think there were any artificial trees back then. The evening started with Dad cutting the tree to the right height, so it wouldn’t bend at the ceiling, but somehow, with the star on top it would almost touch the ceiling. The house was filled with the wonderful scent of pine, and we were filled with anticipation.
Once the tree was up, Mom and Dad would string the lights and garland, while the room was filled with the voices of all of us as we sang Christmas Carols and ate the wonderful snacks Mom had prepared for the occasion. Finally it was time to start decorating the tree. Each of us girls had our own ideas on true tree beauty, and while we didn’t always agree on what that was, we all managed to work through our differences to create a tree that we were all happy with. And we always thought that the current year’s tree was the best ever…and maybe it was, because as we got older, I’m sure ornaments were more evenly spaced, and our choices of placement put more of the elegant ornaments in front.
Those days of family tradition and all of us being together have changed a lot over the years. As more of us married or had to work, the traditional Christmas decorating event changed until eventually it was completely unlike the ones I remember as a child, but the love and the spirit was always there. While each family has their own traditions now, and it is Jessi and some of the other grandkids who come to decorate the tree for Mom and Cheryl, to me it will always be Mom and Dad who really made Christmas what it was when I was a kid. Their love of the Lord and their love of His birthday surrounded our home at that time of the year. They showed us what the Christmas spirit was all about, at Christmas and all year round.