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  • Betty Girardeau

Christmas in the Mists of Time #2


"The Magic of the Lighted Christmas Tree" should be the subtitle for this post. The tradition in our family when I was growing up was that we did not decorate the tree before Christmas Eve because that was Santa Claus' job. I don't remember too much about the actual purchase of the tree when I was a young child. I think my Dad was in charge of doing that and there were years when his selection did not meet my Mother's approval, usually because the tree was not uniformly filled out or that the trunk was a bit twisted, causing the tree to list a bit even after it was placed in the tree stand. In fact, one year it listed so much that I remember my Dad had to tie it up and attach it to the curtain rod of the window next to the tree. Another year when I was much older, I remember my Dad trying to position the tree to my Mother's liking, and she kept suggesting that it would look better if turned a little bit more to the right. This suggestion was repeated several times before it was determined that that particular tree had a bald spot that circumnavigated the tree. In any case, the norm until I was almost in middle school was that while the tree was brought into the house it would not "appear" decorated until Christmas morning. Santa decorated the tree and placed all the gifts, including the ones my Mother had been wrapping for weeks and storing in her bedroom and those that had been sent from grandparents and various aunts and uncles, under the tree. So when I was sent to bed on Christmas Eve, the tree was quite "bald," no lights, no ornaments. Christmas morning my mother, who I think relished the surprise and joy of that day, would awaken us by shaking us awake with the words "Christmas gift." But she was very strict that we had to be fully dressed AND our BEDS MADE before we could go downstairs and see the tree and gifts in all its glory. My sister and I were usually pretty quick to comply, but then Mother made us wait at the top of the stairs until our Dad, who had gone ahead, said we could come down. As a small child I did not consider that this delay was because he needed to turn on the tree lights and also heat up the coffee pot. But the absolute thrill and wonder of seeing the tree transformed with lights and ornaments and, of course, tinsel, was magical. I still view lighted and decorated trees as something very special. I have a tiny little tree on my countertop bar between my kitchen and dining room. In fact, it is the one in the picture I created for this blog. I have new neighbors this year across the street, and I love seeing their lighted tree from my office window. I still feel the magic of these lighted trees after all these years. They bring back such fond, warm, and happy memories of so many Christmases past.

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