December is knocking on the door, bringing cold and blustery weather over the next few days. I threw some lights on the last two bushes outside, so the house looks festive with soft white lights in the winter night.
We decorated the big tree yesterday. It is a nice eight-footer we bought many years ago. The tree still looks nice, but the artificial needles are dropping off in increasing amounts when we put it up or down or mess with it. The tree is at least 15 years old. The wife paid serious cash for it when she bought it and it would cost probably close to a grand to replace it with like size and quality today. That will never happen. We will probably use the thing until it looks like Charlie Brown's tree, draping lights on the bare metal branches.
I put more than 1,000 lights on the tree, all white, since that is what the boss wants. No blinking either. I get the depth of light on the lower branches by using icicle lights and laying them along each branch. Yes it takes hours to assemble the tree, but it is gorgeous in its lighted glory.
The wife and I started dating in December of '78. I was a mere boy of 16. That is truth, not hyperbole. The story has been told and rerun way too many times in these pages. You can find it over there in the archives without much effort. Anyway, starting with the next Christmas, the girl bought me an ornament and after that we started buying each other new ones every year. That is a tradition that has continued pretty much for the past forty years. If we didn't buy for each other, the kids at least got a new one each year.
Thus decorating the tree is an adventure in nostalgia as we pull the carefully wrapped ornaments from their original boxes and hunt for room on the increasingly crowded branches. Most are of the Hallmark variety, but several handmade ornaments also dangle among the white lights.
There are ornaments marking the birth of kids and grandkids, one from our first year of marriage, a silver bell from my grandmother, angels each year for our grandson. There is the hand-painted ball the youngest made in grade school. There are Cubs and Colts ornaments. Teddy bears (the wife's favorite) and ornaments from popular culture: the Simpsons, Harry Potter, the Wizard of Oz, Charlie Brown, A Christmas Story, Star Wars and Scooby Doo. We once had a couple dozen Barbie and I Love Lucy ornaments, but my daughter took them to her house after she got married.
The tree evokes nostalgia and the spirit of Christmases past. It is a lot of work, but decorating the big tree leaves me with a sense of family and tradition that appeals to my love of the past.