February 7, 2023

Christmas–The Joyful Holiday of Lights Decorations

Fond Memories of Christmas Tree Lighting

Do you have fond memories of getting your childhood home ready for Christmas?  Are you like me, where you can remember the excitement of bringing home the Christmas tree each year?

In our upstate town of Tribes Hill, New York, in the 1960’s and 1970’s artificial trees were pretty rare.  Being so close to the Adirondack Mountains most of us kids expected to have real pine in our homes.  This was an opportunity to bring indoors the familiar pine smell we enjoyed all summer as we camped, picnicked, swam and boated in the region’s recreational areas.

Come Christmastime, we gathered the family into the ever-present station wagon to go to the local tree lot or sometimes even the local Christmas tree farm.  No one was ever left behind for this important event.  As kids we rushed around the snow-covered trees, pushing, shoving and hiding from each other among the icy branches.  All this went on while Mom and Dad, and my live-in Great Aunt negotiated over the all-important tree. Would it be a Scotch pine like Aunt Alice’s?  Never–Mother hated those short, full, stubby trees with there long, thin needles.  How about a beautiful blue spruce?  That would be nice, but this particular species of tree was one of the most expensive.  Most every year we found ourselves in the aisle with the balsam fir trees.  These trees are tall and somewhat sparse in my opinion, but in these years they were among the more reasonable options.  The best thing about them is their incredible aroma.  Even now years later when I smell balsam fir, I’m returned to these times.

Bringing That Outdoor Christmas Tree In

Usually the tree we ended up with had a blemish of some sort–at least in my mother’s mind.  Even after my poor father held up tree after tree looking for the perfectly-shaped one, it was sure to have a flaw.  The solution to this was remarkably to remake the tree!  My mother would point out the spots where branches were lacking and my father would be required to saw off branches from the bottom and place them in holes he drilled out higher up on the tree.  This unorthodox method usually resulted in a fairly symmetrical tree but alas one that didn’t last too long before the poor water starved needles started shedding onto the carpet.

A Time Before the Advent of Miniature Christmas Lights

Following the selection and remodeling of the tree, it was placed in the traditional screw-tightened tree stand and ready for the initial step of adding the Christmas tree lighting.  In those days, long before the little, miniature Christmas lights, we lit the tree with traditional c7 lights or sometimes even with those pesky string lights with the pointy bulbs that must have been left from the 1950’s.  These bulbs were the ones that wouldn’t light if any one of the many bulbs was burned out.  My job was often to find the offending Christmas bulb or if I were unlucky the offending Christmas bulbs.  This was truly the worst job. If more than one were burned out fixing the string became a frustratingly impossible task.

Frustrating or fond, all those memories are all that’s left of a time so long ago.  Little did we know that these were special times that would eventually fade into the distant past.

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