• Betty Girardeau

Christmas in the Mists of Time #4

Christmas 1951. I think my Dad must have taken this picture while they were getting the presents arranged under the tree. Typically there were things under the tree for the children that were unwrapped. Back then I thought it was to add to the thrill and excitement on Christmas morning. But now that I am older, and a bit wiser, I think my Mother wasn't too keen on having to wrap some of these big bulky items, like my sister's new luggage. This was the year that I got my second Madame Alexander doll and that awesome canopy bed for her and the doll I had previously gotten. I will talk about dolls in another blog. What caught my eye the most in this picture, though, is all that tinsel on the tree. One of my friends commented after reading an earlier post about the "wayyy too much tinsel" that she remembered on their Christmas trees. After looking closely at this tree, I can almost understand why all the tinsel. It sort of covers up the ugly shape of the tree and its bare spots. In those days there were no Christmas tree farms. While I have many memories about specific ornaments and lights, especially those bubble lights, tree tinsel was a major aspect of every Christmas tree that my mother had anything to do with decorating. When my sister and I got old enough to help decorate, though, of course the decorating was still not done until Christmas Eve, Mother made a big deal about the tinsel and how it should be applied to the tree, ONE PIECE AT A TIME! You absolutely could not put tinsel on a branch in groups of two or more, and, if you tried, Mother would notice and make us redo it correctly. Tinsel was the last thing to go on the tree and the first thing to be removed when the decorations were coming down. Why? Because the tinsel was saved and used from year to year. It had to be removed from the tree just as carefully as it had been put on the tree so that it could be placed neatly in its box and not ball up and become wrinkled. I actually think I remember my mother ironing some one year that had gotten balled up in its box. Which, of course, you could do because tinsel was metal and not plastic in those days. We did buy new boxes from time to time, but I am sure that there were some that made it to the tree for quite a few years in a row. I think my Dad was really happy when my sister and I got old enough and wanted to help decorate the tree because he was no longer going to be chided by Mother about his wanting to put the tinsel on the tree in "clumps." Once the tree was in the house and settled in its stand and he had gotten the lights on the tree so they were balanced in such a way that there were no spots on the tree barren of lights and the colors of the bulbs were equally balanced so that there were no places with too much of any one color, he would retire from the room. He had done his part. As a small child who knew Santa decorated the tree, I thought all that tinsel was awesome. But it was another story when I later became "Santa's helper" and had to take part in the tinsel hanging. I learned to hate those tiny silver threads. When I got married and began having my own trees, I avoided that stuff and started using garlands. They are probably prettier and certainly easier to put on and take off the tree. Mother would at least approve that they can be recycled year after year.

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