What does the Christmas tree mean to you?
Is it a pretty accessory to mark the season or a treasure trove of memories and tradition?
THE CHRISTMAS TREE – A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
Evergreen firs have been used by Christians and pagans for thousands of years to celebrate winter festivals. It is thought that the trees, still green after other trees were bare, reminded people of the spring to come.
Germany is credited with the start of the Christmas tree tradition during the 16th century. Sometimes the trees were built out of pyramids of wood and decorated with evergreen branches and candles.
As the decorating became more popular, streamers were used to represent angel hair, adding to the delight of the fun for children. Tinsel is the modern-day version of ‘angel hair’. For more on angels and how to make your own, check out my post 3 Angels that are Super Sweet, Cheap and Easy to Make.
A TREE OF TREASURED TRADITION
While family, friends, feasting and fun are all part of the joy of the wonderful Christmas season, for me tradition plays a big role too and our tree is full of memory and tradition.
I think the colour co-ordinated Christmas trees that are so popular these days are beautiful and striking, but I can’t help but wonder what becomes of the treasured decorations from years past.
Are they thrown out? Or stuck in a box waiting for their colour turn to come?
I can’t wait for the annual unveiling of the little treasures from Christmas trees past. Little Mexican ‘God’s Eyes’ made with paddle pop sticks and wool by my sons when they were in primary school sit proudly next to last year’s indulgent buy from Myer.
Tiny felt stockings and stars, also made by my sons while at school, are proudly placed beside the three beautiful Hallmark decorations my mother bought me for my tree in my first flat when I left home.
Tiny tin owls, birds, fish, hearts and stars, made with much fun with my daughter in law when she was still the high school sweetheart of my youngest son sit sweetly next to the little decorated bears I made with a wonderful friend for each member of the family about 15 years ago.
Cardboard and cellophane ‘stained glass’ stars and bells made with the kids when they were still children are strategically placed so the fairy lights shine through them.
A beautiful embroidered ‘T’ made for me by a lovely friend decades ago is another treasure that sits next to the balding bear picture frame ornament given to my 27-year-old son to mark his first Christmas.
Plastic baubles and frames with pictures of each of the Goddess’s first Christmas are tucked in amongst the tinsel and lights.
Each little Christmas tree decoration has its own story, bringing to life treasured memories. Even the new Myer bought indulgences are a reminder of a relatively new tradition. Just before Christmas, I spend a day with each daughter in law to select a special decoration and enjoy a girl time lunch.
Then there are the little wonders of the homemade advent calendar that once had three little boys – now marvellous men – buzzing with anticipation to see which of them was lucky enough to get the ‘special heart’ – the most prized decoration.
This little mirrored heart was given to me by a friend of my mother’s more than 30 years ago. Why it became the best Christmas prize I have no idea yet I get a thrill when I am the lucky one (and not Hubby or the grandkids) to open the tiny door to that heart.
I can’t imagine leaving these little time capsules of love, fun and friendship in a dark lidded box during the sparkly season of Christmas.
Every year I lovingly take them from their little padded prison cells and hang them to shine in all their glory on the Christmas tree that is so symbolic of the season of love.
The Christmas tree itself is part of the tradition. Bought more than 20 years ago when I could no longer bear killing the potted pines (through neglect outside of the season) I kept buying, our artificial tree represents all the lives (of trees) that I have saved.
The ad-hock combination of ornaments does not lend itself to colour coordination and the perfect spacing and balance that so many strive for. I see this as a good thing because when my four-year-old Goddess feels the need to rearrange the decorations, as she did many times last year, I don’t get upset.
When my Hubby helps me set up and doesn’t realise that size DOES matter, when it comes to tree ornament placement, I don’t feel the need to redo all of his contributions.
I love the quirky, unbalanced, multi-coloured marvellous mess that is our tree of treasured tradition.
How do you choose to decorate your tree?
Want to know what your tree says about you?
Happy decorating, and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.
Pamela ShankDecember 15, 2015 at 11:08 am
Oh my gosh!!! I cannot believe that we were on the samw wave lengths for our holiday posts about ornaments, Christmas trees etc. Guess we must be a lot a like! Loved reading your post and I enjoyed the one about showing too much happy! You said so many things that I feel like I was writing. Your blog is great and I really connect with it. Thank you for visiting mine and you have a Merry Christmas too. So happy for the wonderful blogs I read on the Grand Social
tamuriaDecember 16, 2015 at 7:51 am
I was struck by how alike we were thinking too Pamela and am thrilled to have connected with another grandmother who feels the same.Cheers to Grand Social for helping us find each other. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts. 🙂
Vatsala ShuklaDecember 17, 2015 at 3:06 pm
We do celebrate Christmas in India, Tami, because India is a secular country though yes, many of us don’t have Christmas trees at home if we are of a different faith.
Things are changing though and many of my friends do set up small Christmas trees because their children want it. For me, Christmas is more of a spiritual time and one of gifting goodwill and love along with presents to friends who invite me for their open house parties on Christmas Day.
The spirit of Christmas is what is more important and I love the fact that even if your tree has an imbalanced look, it is oozing with lots of love and is a symbol of family.
tamuriaDecember 17, 2015 at 5:46 pm
Like India, Australia is a secular country and therefore, while the majority of people here do celebrate Christmas there are many, especially as our multiculturalism grows, who don’t.I love that regardless of faith, people are embracing the symbolism of the tree as a fun thing for kids and a symbol of family and love.:)
Lisa HDecember 17, 2015 at 5:43 pm
How funny you should write about this, I just posted on my FB page how I love my tree because it is filled with so many special memories…I don’t get it when people have color coordinated trees and I have wondered to what happens to those treasures from the past, do they just chuck them in the trash?
I lost my mom at a young age, and I don’ t know what happened to my child hood Christmas decorations, it makes me sad to think they are gone. It would have been nice to have that part of my past…oh well, creating new memories now…I have many ornaments that bring back so many special memories from prior years. Great post!
tamuriaDecember 18, 2015 at 5:43 pm
I so hope they don’t chuck them in the trash Lisa – that would be sad. It’s a shame you don’t have your childhood decorations but creating new memories is so much fun too.:)
Beverley GoldenDecember 18, 2015 at 9:00 am
Even though I am Jewish, my former husband was not and my daughter and I usually still put up our artificial tree and I am the one who LOVES to decorate it. Back in the early 80’s when I owned a chain of home video rental stores, my ex was visiting and went into a second-hand store across the street from our main store, and came back with a shopping bag filled with old (antique) ornaments. I absolutely love them and although many of them are falling apart, I do use as many as possible and intersperse them with new ones, primarily whimsical Santas, reindeer and some handmade Santas my ex and daughter made when she was very young. Whoever sees our tree is struck by the colourful cornucopia of stuff they are seeing. There is a warmth and welcoming feeling I believe it evokes. Loved hearing about all your treasures and how the memories that go along with them is so precious and creates its own tradition within your home during the holiday season! Thanks for sharing the history of the Christmas tree as well, Tami! Lovely post. Happy Holidays and enjoy!
tamuriaDecember 18, 2015 at 4:16 pm
Those antique decorations sound lovely Beverley and it sounds like they inspire great memories for you too. While the colour coded, modern day trees are so pretty, I love when Christmas trees radiate warmth and tradition.Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂
Delia RusuDecember 18, 2015 at 1:34 pm
We do have super colourful trees, Tami! And just like you, I can’t bear the idea not to use beautiful decorations that I had in previous years just so I can decorate in 1-2 colors (Don’t get me wrong, I like how those trees look, but it’s not the same like a super colorful one!)
I recall when we were kids we had fewer ornaments because there weren’t that many to buy, but still managed to decorate a beautiful tree where almost every ornament was unique. Those moments are so precious still in my mind 🙂
tamuriaDecember 18, 2015 at 4:31 pm
I love how Christmas (particularly the trees) brings out so many happy memories – while creating new ones.Nothing beats a really colourful tree full of old and meaningful decorations with some new ornaments scattered between.:)
Renee FullerDecember 18, 2015 at 2:31 pm
I gave up themed trees and going all out with decorations. Now I have a skinny 6′ tree brimming with white lights and ornaments from my boys’ school years and from random memories of Christmas past. I just want Christmas to be filled with love and memories
tamuriaDecember 18, 2015 at 4:32 pm
I’m with you Renee. Christmas filled with love and memories, while making lovely new memories, is what it’s all about. Have a very Merry one. 🙂
rozbeadsDecember 19, 2015 at 12:40 am
We don’t celebrate Christmas and I love the holiday and season. Somehow it brings out the warmth and goodness in people. Now if only that could last beyond a few weeks. I enjoy being in the stores and hustling and bustling with others. I love seeing the lights on our neighbors homes.
I do believe if I did have a tree, it would be filled with handmade decorations, each holding a story and memory. I love how your writing brings us into your home and family.
tamuriaDecember 23, 2015 at 7:58 am
I agree Roslyn, Christmas brings out the warmth and goodness in people. I love that you get joy out of the season, even though you don’t celebrate it. 🙂
KathyDecember 21, 2015 at 9:25 am
What beautiful memories your tree holds. Ours is very much the same. I do ‘start’ with a red and silver theme but then add all the special ones from over the years, and the latest ones made at school ( our son is 5 so made heaps this year, sadly at 12 they don’t seem to make the decorations any more at school so none from our daughter this year). So it ends up pretty all over the place. But sort of perfect somehow. PS thanks for visiting my blog.
tamuriaDecember 23, 2015 at 8:05 am
Your tree sounds beautiful Kathy. Starting with a colour scheme and then adding the special decorations is like having the best of both worlds. It is so sad when the kids stop making those sweet, little ornaments but it’s great you’re holding onto the memories. Enjoyed your blog. 🙂