Christmas Memories

Our first Christmas was 47 years ago. We drove our SkiDoo into the woods near our cabin to choose a tree. Dean brought his chain saw and I brought my ideas of a 12 foot forest denizen. Even the roar of the snowmobile’s engine and the smell of its exhaust couldn’t muffle the holiday songs in my head. “Oh the weather outside is frightful….”

Memories of Christmases past flood my head. They lead me to thoughts of how much my life has changed and how those changes can be measured by a Christmas tree and decorations I chose.

Our first Christmas was 47 years ago. We drove our SkiDoo into the woods near our cabin to choose a tree. Dean brought his chain saw and I brought my ideas of a 12 foot forest denizen. Even the roar of the snowmobile’s engine and the smell of its exhaust couldn’t muffle the holiday songs in my head. “Oh the weather outside is frightful….”

And frightful was the look on the face of my husband of three months.

“Honey,” he said slowly and with insistent patience, “we have a two-seater car. How do you expect me to get that tree back to Minneapolis?”

After 30 minutes of crying, I acceded. “You just don’t want me to have a beautiful tree,” I whined.

“I’m more interested in a safe trip home,” he answered.

And of course, he was right. Besides, the two dozen red balls I’d bought would have looked sparse on that monster of a tree.

So, we sledded on and found something much more suitable and much more portable.

Two years later we celebrated Christmas with our two-month-old daughter. As a first grandchild, she was showered with pink dresses, pink socks, pink bows. But from a high school friend came a cherished present: a bright red onesie with matching booties. Those little foot warmers were the first ornaments to hang on our tree.

That was the same year we discovered the The Spouse’s severe allergies were triggered by fir tree mold. Time for an artificial tree. (Oh joy. But one does what one does, and a paper towel dipped in Pine Sol comes close to replicating the aroma of a real tree. Kind of.)

Jump ahead seven years when I became enamored of whole-house decorating. Even our loo had holiday decor and, of course, a pine scented candle.

My need for—and love of—over the top decorating continued well into my teaching years. I hung ornaments from my junior high students on our tree and on the wreath above the fireplace, the wreath in the kitchen, and the wreath in the living room. And always, that little red sock from our daughter’s first Christmas took place of honor.

Now I bake only three dozen cookies, most of which I bring to the baristas as our favorite coffee shop; we don’t need and shouldn’t eat all those calories. The house remains decor-free with the exception of a painting I did a few years ago.

We’ve had several artificial trees since then. Our current tree, and no doubt our last, is a three-foot, pre-lit lovely. I no long put ornaments on it, not even that little red sock. It’s made its way to our daughter’s tree…a live, tall, beauty. May it be as happy in its new home as I and The Spouse are in our old one. I’ve learned that I no longer have a desire to compete with Martha Stewart, and that memories of Christmases past are more than enough to fulfill my need to decorate.

in-my-winter-garden