How lovely are your branches! I love Christmas. I love the lights and the smells and the joy and the wonder and all the other stuff. Like lots and lots of other folks do.
For our first Christmas, we bought a tree at K-Mart. A tree in a box. There was a looming dock strike, and the most talked-about threat was not loss of jobs, not disaster for small businesses. It was, “There won’t be any Christmas trees!” Apparently, fresh evergreen trees are shipped to the Hawaiian Islands for Christmas. And we, not knowing anything different, went to K-Mart for a tree. It was one of those “bottle-brush” artificial trees. We had some ornaments that people in the apartment across from us had left behind when they moved. We’d been to a nice department store and, as we got to the top of the escalator, we smelled the smell of Christmas. We bought the aerosol spray. And we were all set.
The only thing we didn’t have was a tree-top ornament.
We used that tree for several years, then we bought a house and it had 10 foot ceilings. The old tree seemed too short for the new space.
David had been doing work for some folks, out in the country. He’d seen a tree he thought would work for us, and it needed to be cut down anyway. It was great. It made the house smell like Christmas. And instead of the miniature lights that were required, at the time, for artificial trees, we used the large, real Christmas lights that I knew from my childhood. (They were the handed-down lights from Mother and Daddy, so they may have been the lights of my childhood!)
A couple of years later, some friends bought some land out in the country and needed to do some clearing. They offered their place for tree-cutting for Christmas trees. And we went. But, here in Central Texas, the kinds of “evergreen” trees we have growing locally are Cedar Junipers. Yes, they are evergreen. Yes, they smell like Christmas. But they are rather ball-shaped, as opposed to the usual pyramid/cone type of tree that one gets at the tree lot. And, an enormous problem with going out to the country to cut a tree that’s growing out under God’s big, blue sky, is that they don’t look all that big, out there, in the wild.
We had those kinds of trees, for years. Big, full balls of Christmas trees that filled about a third of the dining room. They held several strings of lights and lots and lots of ornaments. But: 1) they do not really have “tops.” They’re a big ball. And 2) they banged right up against the ceiling. David put a big hook (like you would use for a swag light or a hanging plant) into the ceiling and tied the tree to it each year.
So, no tree-top ornament. For years.
I resisted the idea of an artificial tree for a long time, mainly because I still wanted those big-bulbed tree lights (you know, the ones from my childhood). A few years ago, I saw an artificial tree at Lowe’s. It had small lights AND big lights!! It cost about a hundred dollars, and I thought that was too much and didn’t get it. And I was instantly sorry. It would be less than the cost of ten trees over ten years time. I went back to Lowe’s and it was gone. I told JoAnne about my poor decision, after I’d been to HEB and gotten a fresh (sort of fresh) tree. She called me a few days later, after her family had gone to Tyler to visit Jim’s mom. “I’m standing in the Lowe’s here, and I think I see the tree you wanted. Do you want me to get it?” Oh, yes, I did want her to get it. It stood, in its box in the garage, for the whole next year, when JoAnne and Natalie were back, and we put it together, and plugged it in. Ta-Dah. An artificial tree with the lights of my childhood.
This year, both sons, both daughters-in-law, and the grandson were with us for Thanksgiving. On Friday, we got that great tree out of its box and worked together putting it up, plugging it in, and decorating. They brought in all the Christmas boxes from the garage, and opened them up to put out other decorations. Jeremy pulled a box from the large can that held the Christmas stockings and asked “What’s this?”
“It’s the tree-top ornament that belonged to my grandparents,” I said.
“Let’s use it,” he said.
“I don’t think it will work,” I said. The opening at the bottom is narrow, and the artificial tree, while not the stiff bottle-brushed tree of our early years still has a rather, um, bristley upright center.
“I’ll try,” he said.
“No, don’t,” I fretted. “It’s very old, and I don’t want it to break.”
“It’ll be all right,” he insisted. And he gently pushed it onto the top of the tree.
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
Psalm 98:4 (King James Version)
Isaac Watts wrote the the words to “Joy to the World,” based on the second half of Psalm 98. It wasn’t meant to be a Christmas carol. But, aren’t we glad that it turned out that way. Our Christmas traditions, celebrations, and joy are gifts we receive and gifts we give others. Glad tidings to you and yours.