My "Charlie" (Brown) Outdoor Tree This Year...
I am positive I am part elf at this time of the year, and I always look forward to decorating a Christmas tree...this year my real live tree ended up outside...
When I was little, the indoor tree in my home had to be perfect, and sadly, I don't ever remember making decorations that made it up onto the tree. It seemed our home trees were always impeccably formal with my parents. As weird as it is, I do remember the excursion for the family to buy a fresh tree was my favourite part, because it was always a full, every family member present family affair… but the decorating was all done by my parents with my mom in charge. I'm realizing now that I somehow missed out, although I didn't know it until I was an adult and looked back.
As for my grandmother's house, well, I still have rather clear memories of a yearly fresh tree that was massively tall, dawned with traditional ornaments including these little flamed, burning candles that would somehow bubble up the clear liquid in the bottom of each one while they were lit. The tree was always spectacular, and sat in my grandmother's very large house in one of the several spots that had very high ceilings. I think back in the day, the timing of everything, and the traditions, like when the specific and appropriate day to bring the tree down occurred. I believe it was right on Boxing Day, where they would actually take the tree down, drag it outside and light it on fire.
In my young adult life, there was quite a different system in my home... as I would plan and prep for a tree theme, and then, on the day of decorating, I would jack up the Christmas tunes full blast, (often singing along), and get to work trimming the tree. First my husband would work with me to put the tree in the stand and start with the lights. Then I would rearrange the lights appropriately (with lights turned low and my eyes squinting), and then I would carry on with the rest of the adding of the decorations. At first we often decorated together, as a team, but when the kids came along, we had to, (as most parents do), split-shift the decorating duties with child-minding. Once the kids left infancy I welcomed them to fully help decorate the tree, too, something I didn't get the chance to do when I was little, if my memory serves me.
In their youth, I loved taking the time to craft ornaments with the kids for the tree. it was a happy family tradition. The children also brought some hand made items home from school, or from their scouting activities, or from their music teachers. We often made ornaments as gifts for them to give back. Our home family tree was far more kid-friendly in those years.
My living room tree started to have so many cherished family tradition ornaments through my kids early years, that I eventually made a decision to go back to doing a themed, more formal tree using an artificial Blue Spruce in the living room, with a second, smaller, fresh tree in the family room, just for the boys. All of their cherished ornaments made or collected over the years went on that little tree in the room where we sat as a family and watched TV. That felt, at the time, the best of both worlds.
Over the years, my trees have been wonderful for me. They are not over-the-top, hugely expensive trees, or with expensive decorations, and mostly I put up artificial trees because, as an elf, I gear up early to decorate and a fresh tree just doesn't last as long. Each year my trees often have a slight theme, either by subject matter, ornaments style or by a certain colour theme. Over the years I've done bright jewel-toned trees, a pink "girly" tree, (that one might have been after my divorce), and a few times the old silver and white tree and trimmings. As long as the kids remained at home, the second tree in the family room held all their childhood and collected ornaments. Today, one of my sons has them for his tree. These trees, of course, we're my indoor trees, but that is not to say I have only decorated indoors.
Years ago, I had moved to a place that was near this amazing little park, nestled amongst a residential area. Even though I had spent about 30 years in the area, I had never discovered this little park. It took a girlfriend one day calling to suggest a winter walk in the sunshine. We planned a catch-up visit where we could also delightfully sip hot cocoa from thermoses. The park was a beautiful discovery!
I was so delighted and enchanted by this little park, and it became, going forward, a tradition for this friend and I to decorate a little tree in the back field there each year. We would use no lights or tinsel, to respect the environment and the animal full life, and just use recyclable an unbreakable material ornaments made from things like paper and wood. We always stressed in red and white "Elfie" garb and off we went on a mutually convenient, but also sunny, day. After the holidays, we would collect the ornaments and dry them out, and store them for the next year, if they were still viable after being outside for the season.
Finding myself getting up there in age, I have had to simplify the past few years. However, because I am still part else, and still love decorating for each seasonal event in the year, but I am noticing it is becoming a lot more work as I age. Even through all the work and effort I am always happier if I have a tree, even if not too many people see it. (My entertaining around the holiday season has decreased over the years, especially since I've moved away from my family and longtime friends).
This year will be especially quiet as I am still on the mend from an accident. Because of that, I still didn't indoor tree, of sorts, I aptly called "Ruby". (You can see her in my previous post). This year outside I was kindly given a special "Charlie Brown" live tree for my desk, whom I simply call "Charlie". It is a delightful tiny tree adorned only in a string of white snowflake lights. As we have extreme winter winds here, Charlie has now been wired and strapped to his pot out there.
Tradition is tradition, and being comfortable and happy and keeping familiar traditions is a good thing. Sometimes you just have to simplify, and be satisfied with what you can accomplish. I am delighted that my home now reflects the season with Ruby and Charlie, and…well… It doesn't get any better than that!