When my sisters, brother, and I were growing up on the ranch, it was tradition for Dad to cut the Christmas tree.
Before he left to get the tree, we kids always reminded him that we wanted a tall tree. Our sister Charlotte Allum remembers at least one time when Dad came back and teased us that he couldn’t get through the deep snow to find a tall tree so he had to bring a short one. We were pretty worried, but, of course, the tree was tall as usual.
I remember decorating the tree the same day that Dad brought it home, but Charlotte recalls Dad putting the tree in water for a couple of days before he brought it into the house and set it up. By that time we had gotten down the box of decorations.
We could hardly wait until the tree warmed up and the icicles and snow in the branches melted.
There were steps to follow when trimming the tree. The angel was put on top first. Dad usually had this job since the tree was so tall.
Next came the lights. I think Dad may have done this, too.
We remember two kinds of lights, big bulbs and bubble lights. We never had any twinkling lights.
Next came the garland. Besides the “boughten” garland there were also paper chains that we kids made from construction paper. We also strung popcorn and sometimes cranberries.
Charlotte recalls how we popped up a big bunch of popcorn, and Dad teased us by eating it. The handmade garland was usually put on the tree after it had been decorated.
I think it may have given us something to do as we waited for Christmas Day.
We hung glass bulbs of different colors on the tree. (Not long ago our brother Duane Osborn came upon some of these ornaments with the price tags on them. Can you imagine prices of 15 to 19 cents?)
There were also plastic elk in two sets. The larger elk were white; the smaller ones brown. Sister Darlene Blackford remembers that the antlers got broken off at least one of the elk; it then became a cow elk.
Possibly the ornaments that we remember most were the birds. They were plastic and in several colors.
These ornaments were pushed onto the branches so that a bird’s feet were on either side of the branch. It was kind of difficult to hang the birds so sometimes a foot broke off.
In this case, according to sister Darlene Blackford, the “injured” bird was placed in a nest that was placed in the tree.
One year, Darlene recalls, the Christmas tree had a real bird nest in it. We saved the nest and it became a place for a bird.
Duane remembers some fruit ornaments—apples, oranges, bananas, and pears—all made of glass. There were also elves and Rudolph. It was Darlene’s job to hang Rudolph.
We also hung some very old ornaments that had been passed down to my mother from her family. These ornaments were stored in a lard pail with a lid (and still are today).
They were very fragile. Duane says that they are German Dresden ornaments.
We all remember the grapes, purple glass that has now faded to silver/white. They were hung by a loop made from crinkle wire.
Some of these old decorations were cardboard pictures of Santa, angels, and others. They were trimmed with the crinkle garland wire and hung on the tree with a crinkle wire loop.
Charlotte remembers that the crinkle wire garland was sharp and had to be handled carefully.
Last to be put on the tree was the tinsels. Mom was very particular about the way it was to be hung on the tree—one strand at a time.
However, we kids soon tired of this boring job and resorted to hanging it by the “bunch”.
Charlotte recalls an amusing story concerning the tinsel. In the later years when we had a television and it was located next to the Christmas tree, the static electricity caused the tinsel to be pulled from the tree.
Decorating the tree is one of our favorite memories. Happy holidays to everyone.
Copyright Diane Prather, 2012.