Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent Calendar - Christmas Tree Memories

Geneabloggers is once again hosting the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories encouraging family historians to write about their holiday traditions.

Ahh – Christmas tree memories.  How much time do you have?  

Just hearing the words “Christmas tree” conjures up the distinct look of my mother’s tree.  I say “my mother’s tree” because no one I ever knew decorated a tree the way she did.  Everyone who came to visit seemed to study the tree before commenting on how different it was.  What made the tree unique was the amount of tinsel, or icicles as we called them.

1952 - Me at the piano - very talented at a young age.

For many years my sister and I were not allowed to put icicles on the tree because Momma had a special technique that required patience and precision.  Momma would take a large handful of tinsel and spread the thin silvery strips of foil along her left arm, as if her arm were a branch.  Then she’d carefully transfer the tinsel to the branches, a handful at a time.   

Late 1960s -- Notice how neatly Momma
hung the tinsel.  Each branch was full.

The result was a beautiful icy tree.  You could barely see the ornaments, but that was part of the allure –- catching some sparkling striped ball or a Santa peeking through the forest of icicles. 

Most of my memories are of a beautiful tree, but then there was this year:

1972 - Branches rubbed the ceiling.

Daddy bought a tree that was too tall.  Instead of cutting off the bottom, he cut off the top.  Who does that?  Momma was furious.  We always said the tree looked like it was shrugging its shoulders as if it had given up.

Another strong memory of Christmas trees past is shopping for a tree.  The Band Parents at my high school sold trees as a major fund-raiser.  We made every effort to support them, but we were not content to pick one and go home.  No, we had to drive to every lot known to man to compare trees.  Part of the excitement?  Maybe.  However, MOST years the day my dad finally decided to take us tree shopping would be the coldest, rainiest, most miserable day on record.  No one felt like getting out of the car to inspect a tree or check for gaps in the branches or judge whether it would fit in our living room.  Now over 40 years later when it is cold and miserable out, my sister and I will say, “This is the perfect day to buy a Christmas tree.”


  1. I love the look of tinsel on a tree. Your mom definitely had the technique down to make it look perfect. My aunt is the only person I know who still uses tinsel. (I also remember what a mess it is!)

  2. Love your post! I too,was not allowed to put on icicle for years.Our tree looked just like yours.Thanks for sharing memories JoAnn

  3. hahaha! I still have her icicles if you want to use them! Lawdy, that 1972 tree, I'll never forget how mad Momma was!

    It was fun to see the 1960's shot of Momma when we lived in Cradock. I remember thinking those living drapes were the coolest!

  4. Oh, those tinsels!!
    My mom always made a mess of those...
    That 1972 tree is memorable,
    if only for its unfortunate beheading.
    My mom would have sent my father back to get another one!!

  5. Loved the tree...Our father's must have known each other, because he would have cut off from the

  6. Wendy, I hope you don't mind that I used the wonderful 1953 photo in a blog post about tinsel, here:
    THere is a link back to your site. The Bing Search engine had highlighted your photo as Free to Use so I took the chance--I'll remove it if you want, though (sadly, but I will). It's a great picture!