Christmas trees and Christmas now.

gretchens-1st-xmas-marysville-50This was my first Christmas, in Marysville, California. I seem to be more interested in my toys than in the tree, but with the decided lack of bling on that scrawny evergreen I guess it’s no wonder. Now, though, the strings of popcorn please me very much. After that year, our trees were always decorated with tinsel in typical 50’s fashion, and sometimes plastic icicles.

Amazing, to see three dolls under that tree! All these things make me think that my First Christmas may have been more formative than one would imagine.

This year I put up my faux tree for the second time. Who would have dreamed, even three years ago, that I would ever have a faux, (a.k.a. fake), tree for any reason? (When I mentioned my faux tree to friend Mr. Bread, he burst out laughing.) But while we were shopping during my late husband’s last Christmas season, he looked at the faux trees on display and said, “Gretchen, next year you should get one of these.” I brushed him off and never gave it another thought until the following November when I realized I couldn’t manage getting a cut tree home, not to mention setting it up, and taking it down again in January.Christmas tree 2015

If you didn’t read the poem by Robert Frost about the Christmas trees he didn’t know he had, I put it up last year Here.

This year I decorated my tree all by myself one day when I was alone in the house. That was also a totally new experience for me, and I enjoyed it so much! I should not be surprised about that, either, knowing how I’m never at my best doing group projects.  In the past our whole family would take an evening to decorate while we drank eggnog and hot cider, and many times listened to a recording of “A Christmas Carol.” Seven people decorating one tree is a challenging group project, but it was our tradition that we loved.

I’m pretty sure that introverted decorating will be my new tradition. I will listen to carols while I make the tree into a work of art. As I try to remember who gave me which beloved ornament, I will thank God for Christmas Past and Christmas Now.

Christmas Joy by Soldier and Joy 14

32 thoughts on “Christmas trees and Christmas now.

  1. Well, true confessions here. I have just abhorred fake trees for years, but the burden became quite heavy for me, as the years went on. With my husband’s job commitments and the children turning to their own lives –even while in high school– I became frustrated. They seem to think that they “help” me with the tree a lot more than they do. Anyway . . . two years ago, before we moved to the mountains, I spent “big bucks” on a tree from Frontgate. I was and am very pleased with it. It is nothing like the terrible fake trees my mother started putting up in the early 1970s. But- my children ALL walked in the front door, saw it, and just about had apoplexy!

    But, I’m putting it up again this year. Today, I hope, if I can get time. I like it. It’s good to have a fellow “confessor” tell her story, and make me feel – – less false guilt!

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  2. I love to decorate the tree alone, too. Timothy has taken the downstairs tree into his own paws and my artistry is now all wonky.

    Yes, downtown Amsterdam is a bit dirty but I didn’t mind and attributed it to the tourists. Yes, the Dutch are clean. The Dutch people we bought our house from were immaculate and I loved them for it.

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  3. It’s a lovely tree! I have an artificial one, love it. I would never want a real one, to be honest. This one I am not afraid to put breakable glass ornaments on – I just curve up the ‘branches’ so that there is no way for them to fall! I grew up with an artificial tree and while my parents had real ones for some years later on, they have had an nice artificial one that they were given some years back for a while now. No mess and it’s really nice.

    I put the tree up by myself too, Mr Husband is way to busy to have time to help with anything like that, really. But I am happy that I get to have a home that is big enough to have a tree (a first for me, 2 years ago!) and it gives me so much joy. I also found myself touched by the history of the ornaments and I saw how loved I was in all of my life, it’s a wonderful gift from God, this. Your tree is very beautiful. HUGS, love and more HUGS. I pray you have a blessed Christmas time.

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  4. I’ve had an artificial tree — I’ll never call it fake — for several years. It’s a remarkable thing. It’s double-trunked, and looks for all the world like a nice, Texas hill country cedar. It’s not particularly large, just about 5′ tall. But it does look natural and native, which I love. I leave the lights on it year round, and just tuck it into my bedroom closet.

    Every ornament has meaning, so I call it my Tree of Life. And I still have some of the tinsel from our trees when I was growing up. It was true tin-sel then, made of metal, and we carefully saved every strand as we took it off the tree, wrapping it around cardboard and storing it until the next year. It’s a habit I’ve never broken, and it pleases me far more than it should that I still have some of that original, shiny trim.

    My kitty used to “help” me decorate, but now she’s content to lay on the sofa and supervise. It works very nicely.

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    1. That sounds like a very unusual and special Christmas tree!

      About tinsel, I have no memory of the storage of my parents’ tree decorations. I suppose they must have had some way such as you describe, because they didn’t have the funds to buy new every year.

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  5. I think your tree is wonderful. I wouldn’t have known it was fake. It looks real to me. That is something I thought I would dread, decorating the tree, but this year, like you I did it all alone on a Monday morning. I loved the quiet and the sounds of the music I had playing in the background. It wasn’t as sad as I thought it would be. Ron and the boys were so happy I decorated it while they were gone. So it was win-win. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas Gretchen.

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  6. Your tree is lovely, as are your Christmas memories and the photo of your first Christmas.

    Since my father and then my husband were in the garden center business and sold Christmas trees, we never had a faux Christmas tree. Until 6 years ago when my son and daughter-in-law gave me a lovely white one that I admired in a store. Last Christmas I passed it on to their daughter, my precious 4 year old granddaughter.

    And now this year we are all packed awaiting a January move and so have not put up a tree at all. Next year, God willing.

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  7. Some of you have commented on how you like decorating the tree alone, and I completely understand. But … I don’t. I feel lonely and … a bit bereft, after home schooling 5 children and having to make all of the major adjustments one has to after those children grow up. I feel lonely when I decorate the tree now. The good side is that I like the fact that I get to make it, artistically, EXACTLY what *I* want. I want renaissance and medieval things on there, and THAT’S it! So, I find my solace!

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  8. Gretchen:
    Your decorated tree is just beautiful. So festive and bright. Merry Christmas and God Bless you~~ Sherry H.

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  9. I really like your tree this year! I love that picture of your formative years- SOOO different and so sweet! I have no tree this year because I am away and I wish I did. It was astute of your husband to say that. xx

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  10. I love your ‘faux’ tree. I have several of them large and small. We either found them curbside after Christmas, in our ‘throw-away’ society, or we bought them at yard sales, cheap.

    I put up a small one this year with special ornaments from years past. I love it and it will be easy to take down and put away. I’ve always enjoyed decorating for Christmas, it’s just ‘different’ not having my dear husband here anymore. I know you know what I mean.

    Have a sweet Christmas dear Gretchen and a wonderful new year.

    Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

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    1. I remember being dismayed when my grandma changed out her Christmas tree decorations, but nowadays there are so many different styles that I like. I can easily see me collecting more trees for this most excellent season. I guess I have become that kind of grandma!

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  11. I’m overjoyed for you being so candid. Since my guy went to be with The Lord I thought it might be a bit perverse to enjoy the “Hanging of the Greens” by myself with my memories of each Christmas since I was Born Again in 1999. What a wonderful gift to be given Christmas!

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  12. Dear Gretchen, I’ve been quietly following your blog for a while now and wanted to pop in to say Merry Christmas. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Your voice and experience are important for us hear and learn from. Peace to you.
    Tamara Hill Murphy

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  13. I’ve never been able to decorate our family tree by myself. Even when our children were young I participated mainly in the role of purchaser and installer, leaving the decorating to others. I liked watching them enjoy the project and wondered why I didnt share their enthusiasm.

    A few years ago My Dear and I decided it was time for a tree we didn’t have to cart home on top of the car. Then just last month she allowed that she wasnt sure she could get up the energy to decorate that too-big-for-our-tiny-house tree. I didn’t say anything. Just waited a couple of days, sure that the old routine would get new life. Eventually I said, how about just using lights and a few mementoes instead of a whole tree. The next morning I found a bag of lights on the floor next to the stove where I make coffee for both of us–a sign, and a challenge.

    So after she left to meet friends for lunch, I started thinking of ways to decorate the house without a tree as the focus. It took a few hours, and I wasn’t overly confident about the results. I turned on the lights that evening as she was playing bridge with a robot in her computer, practising for her weekly session at our house the next day. “Oh, that’s nice. When did you do that.” Nothing more.

    But the next evening My Dear was so pleased. She said her bridge friends LOVED the decorations. I was relieved. I had passed a test. And I really enjoyed taking the initiative, once it was placed at my feet.

    Your description above, along with the comments, helped me realize how much satisfaction in the season I had been missing.

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  14. Oh, Joanna, we are so alike! Though I loved decorating with all my kids and grandkids, I have found, as you have, that a quiet afternoon of taking memories from a box and hanging them on THIS years tree has a satisfaction all its own.

    I like to remember the year I dried Oranges and put pretty bows on them and had my grandkids hang them…how we laughed and had cocoa after with gingerbread. But now I have the gingerbread and tea or cocoa and enjoy the Season talking to my Best Friend, Jesus! Christmas Carols and brisk walks in the weak winter sunshine make my soul glow with warmth, remembering Christmas Past and enjoying Christmas Present!

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  15. Gretchen, I have always had a live tree which we cut from the Black Hills each year. The last 3 years we’ve had a “fake” and honestly, it’s been quite nice. Easy to set up, easy to decorate (it’s already lit) and take down. This year I went really crazy and bought us a tinsel tree. And it’s SO pretty! So fun. The grandkids think it’s amazing.

    Loved your little baby picture. SWEET. XXOO

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  16. For many years I went into the woods and cut down a Charlie Brown tree. Small, to set on a table. We didn’t have much room. A couple of years ago I bought a tiny faux tree, which is all I really want when I’m alone. I like your idea of decorating it alone. Another introvert here. 🙂 My daughter got a WHITE faux tree last year. She loves it. I told her it looks very ’60’s. To each their own! It can be an adventure coming up with new traditions as the kids fly the nest and husbands fly to heaven. May you have just the right balance of solitude and family togetherness. Wishing you much warmth and love at Christmas!

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  17. Gretchen, are you my twin sister? “I’m never at my best doing group projects,” resonates in my heart, I actually dislike them.

    I so well remember putting up the tree myself after my first husband’s death. In the middle of the night, it crashed to the floor. Somehow, I had not stabilized it properly. It seems indicative of that year, now.

    I have an artificial tree now, as well. I never ever thought I would, but my second husband said (not two days after we bought a live balsam), “If that tree dies, we’re not lighting it”, and I could picture ourselves Christmas Eve in total darkness.

    So fun that Shoreacres has left a comment here, too. I didn’t know you knew each other, but I’ve always linked you both, with myself, in my mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That line I wrote about group projects was actually pretty euphemistic! Now that my tree is up and my housework is almost done, I am back at another project that I like so well doing all by myself: baking Christmas cookies! It makes me so happy, I might have to write another blog post about it 🙂

      I might have “met” Shoreacres on your blog… or you on her blog?

      It makes Christmas more fun, not having to get down on my hands and knees every day to water a dead tree!

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