Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent Calendar - December 1: The Christmas Tree

This post is number 1 in a series of 24 for the 2011 Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

On the 24th Day of Christmas,
I'm supposed to talk about the Christmas Tree.

Did you have a real tree, or was it artificial? How big was the tree? Who decorated the tree?  What types of Christmas trees di your ancestors have?

When I was a kid ... we always had a real tree, but a dead one. My folks would get it from a tree lot somewhere. The tree was usually 6 to 7 feet tall, and was almost always a Douglas Fir. I think we had several flocked trees over the years.

The tree was set up in the "cubby-hole" at 2119 30th Street in San Diego - the upstairs flat. It was visible from the street. I think my dad attached the tree stand, and strung the lights - they were multi-colored bulb lights on a continuous string - if one went out, they all went out. My mom would put most of the ornaments on the tree, especially the "nice" ones that were up at the top where little boys couldn't touch them. Then she had a gauzy white covering to put over the tree stand.

The "cubby-hole" was out of the traffic areas of the living room, but it was highly visible to anybody in the living room. If one of we boys were caught shaking, feeling up or opening the wrapped gift boxes, there were threats made about taking them back to the store.

There were other Christmas trees in my life as a kid. My grandparents always set up a tall Douglas Fir in their living room - in the corner by the window looking out toward San Diego Bay. We went there for Christmas Eve because they had a fireplace (made sense to us - Santa could visit us much better - although he never neglected us at 2119).

The other Christmas Tree was at cousin Dorothy's house in Kensington. Dorothy was my dad's first cousin - her mother Emily (Richmond) Taylor was my father's mother's sister. Dorothy was an artist, and always had a non-traditional tree. Not an evergreen - usually a manzanita bush without leaves, or some other hand-cut bush or tree. She decorated this tree with hand-made ornaments of her own design. My mother always loved the originality; to we boys (including my dad), this wasn't really a Christmas Tree.

A side note: I'm going to concentrate in these posts on my childhood, rather than on my married family times, or the current post-children years. My goal in writing these is to be able to provide a nice collection of memories so that my children and grandchildren can read them if they are interested.  Unfortunately, I have no pictures of Christmas trees in these early years.

Note: This post was originally written on 30 November 2007. It has been edited slightly.

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