It's Just A Tree, Right?
I just finished un-decorating my Christmas tree. My silver, aluminun, retro-style Christmas tree that has been up all year long.
See, I tried to get my sister to help me take the ornaments off and pack them away on her last visit - not a small task since they have to be wrapped carefully and put into their specific boxes. She convinced me to leave them up all year. Too beautiful to only see for a month was her pitch. I think maybe it was just too much work for her vacation.
But it was the right call. I've enjoyed getting a glimpse of them each time I passed the living room door, photographing them, adding to the tree.
Ah yes, the tree... that's what I was talking about.
I've had artificial trees my adult life. Much easier to deal with than live trees and reusable year after year. I had a very large, very full tree when I lived in the "big house." When I moved into this one twelve years ago, I discovered it was too big. So I got a slimmer style. It looked great but I did put it up Thanksgiving weekend each year and took it down a couple of weeks into January.
One Thanksgiving, my mother was visiting Nashville. We had a lovely brunch at the Renaissance Hotel and took a drive out to look at the scenery and Christmas lights. On Black Friday, we stayed home. But over the weekend, we ventured out to Wal Mart. Walking through the Christmas decorations, I fell in love. There, bringing me back to my dad's office in Ville Platte, was a shiny aluminum tree - with color wheel! I told my mother that I'd love to have one. It wasn't even very expensive (compared to the prices now) but I didn't need it, my tree was up... lots of reasons not to buy it that day.
On Christmas morning, among the typically big stack of presents was a pretty large box. When I opened it and saw it was the tree, I believe I said, "oh no you didn't!" I don't remember what else I got that year (though I'm sure it was all wonderful). But it was a full year before I got to put my tree up - the next Thankgiving weekend. By god, those ornaments on that tree? Magic.
And now, I've outgrown the tree. I've wrestled mightly with replacing it. Especially after my mother died this summer, I thought about hanging on and letting go. That tree is so connected to her in my mind. Clearly, I have the memory of seeing it and getting it. But still. Still.
Some people might think I'm filling a mother-shaped hole with Christopher Radko ornaments. Actually, I got my first ones in 1992 but many of the ones I have were birthday and Christmas gifts from my mom. And then she started getting into them too. During this year, I bought more brand new primary market ones that I ever have before... so yeah, maybe.
And I got a new tree, silver still but a slightly different look than the sweet retro-style of the other. So, the ornaments came off and the retro tree is coming down. But the new tree is going right up and the ornaments will go back on and I'll still get a glimpse of them when I walk by. And if I catch sight of my mother helping me space out the first six Radkos in those early years (filled in with shiny colored balls) in Texas or sitting on the couch in this house unwrapping them for me, I'll know it was okay.