Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tree-Trimming Traditions

Every year everyone in my family clears an evening in their schedule and we all go to mom and dad's house to decorate the family Christmas tree. Ours is NOT a "Martha Stewart" tree. It's a real live, sap-oozing, needle-dropping, scent-giving showcase of our family history. Every ornament on our tree has a story behind it: this one was made by Great-Grandma Friesen. She knitted one for each of us when she was nearly blind... Do you remeber making this one? We had all the neighbourhood kids over and we baked and painted dough ornaments for hours! ... These baubles were from the first Christmas we were married - they've been on our tree for thirty-three years... You made that one in kindergarten with Grandpa at a special evening Christmas craft night... That one was given to you by that little old lady who always sat behind us at church. She loved you kids so much! ... and on and on the stories go. Decorating the tree is a little time warp into our family's past. It's also a noisy, hilarious, crowded (there's always friends or language students or boyfriends/girlfriends, or some combination of those added to the mix), treat-filled evening. Did I mention it was noisy?

Dad always gets the tree set up before dinner. Because our Christmas tree stand is now ROUNDED on the bottom (DAD! Just get a new one!!!), the tree has to be secured to the wall/window ledges with string. I'm pretty sure the string is the only thing holding it up this year. "Is it straight?" Nope, a little to the left. "Umf! Is it straight?" Not quite. "Now?" Well now it's off center. "Yeah, but is it straight?" ...




This continues for who knows how long, then it's time for the lights. They get strewn all the way down the hallway and dad cirlces them around the tree while one of us feeds them to him. Sometimes things get a little tangled up...



Our family has a two set-in-stone traditions when it comes to our Christmas tree. The first one is the "squint test." Nobody wants a Christmas tree with big dark spots on it... the lights have to be evenly distributed. When dad's about halfway through the lights, it's time to do the "squint test." One (or more!) of us stand in the hallway and scrunch up our eyes to blur the lights. It's much easier to spot light-deficient places on the tree that way! Of course, if someone happens to be standing there with a camera, you end up with a picture of yourself that looks like this. Cuuute. Frankly, I much prefer this one.

The second tradition started back in 1993. My brother was 10 when he wrote this note, and every year when we put away the decorations, it gets tucked carefully back into the box. I'm going to let the note tell the story for me on this one. (Click on the picture if you need a larger view.)


After all the decorating was done this year, it was my brother's turn (according to the note!) to put the angel on the tree. It really doesn't matter to us now, but mom still insists we follow the order. It's fun!


There's the fam! The bestest in the whole wide world! Aaaawww!

8 comments:

nachtwache said...

Thanks for sharing, I love that kind of sentimental Christmas, memories and togetherness. You're so lucky. As a kid, I thought Christmas was on the 24., because we always got to open our gifts on Christmas eve. First we'd sing carols, my mom played the zither, we girls (3) played the recorder and sang solos. Parents are always a great audience :)

happy and blue 2 said...

Really like the story and the pictures that go with it.
Our tree is kind of like that too. Not so much a Christmas tree as a memory tree..

Anonymous said...

I did the squint test last year. Totally worked too! :o)

Anonymous said...

I am SO HOMESICK right now! : )

I do miss doing this with my family, but am reminded (by them!) that this is a tradition that I need to start with my husband now. And I am more than happy to it, but it still feels weird to not do this with my family...

In fact, this year, my mom mailed all my ornaments that normally go on THEIR tree. Weird!! But I guess it's time to grow up, huh? It sure is hard!! : )

Queen Bee said...

Oh what fun!! You have a great family, Hillary, I can tell. Cute story about the order of putting the "angle" on the tree ;) And, btw, how come you didn't get the red hair too? :D

Rachelle said...

I told Nathan about the squint test when we first got married and this year he made sure we did the test! That part of your family tradition is morphing into my own! And we always say something like, "We need to do Doug's squint test now!"

Hillary said...

Rachelle - that's awesome!! Though natural, cause you're pretty much like my sister ayway! :)

Barbara said...

OK, this post could have been written by me! My family gets together every single year to decorate my mom and dad's tree. We have never missed a year. Not once. If we can't do it together we don't do it until everyone can be there. We are very, very loud. It is pretty much one shouting match that ends up in freak out laughing at who-knows-what. And every year we can never remember who s supposed to put the "angle" on the tree. (The note is a good idea!) We now have my kids (9&10) helping and my new baby niece who has just turned one. We even take the family picture however nobody in my family will behave and all do the rabbit ears behind each other's heads.
I wouldn't miss it for anything.