I have fond memories of decorating the Christmas tree when I was growing up. We always used an artificial tree. This was not the realistic artificial trees that you see today. The branches of this tree had a green hue that was identical to the color of the green army men that I played with regularly. I’m willing to bet that it was the same type plastic and possibly made at the same factory. It was not a tall tree either. It probably wasn’t over 5 feet tall. When I was young, it didn’t seem that small but as I got older, I realized how short it was. The angel at the top of the tree was never in danger of scraping the ceiling.
In the early 1960’s, the only Christmas lights that were available for indoors or outdoors were really big compared to the lights used today. You also had to be careful about how long you left the lights on because you could end up with bulbs melted to the branches like we had on our tree. Fortunately, this just happened on one branch that could easily be left off of the side that would face the wall. We would soon move to the smaller bulbs that didn’t generate as much heat.
The ornaments were a variety of shapes and sizes, all easily breakable. Each year, several of these would not survive encounters with the floor around the tree. Because these ornaments were so fragile, my sister and I would usually take a break while she put these on the tree. The except for ornaments were two bells. One was red and the other was green. My sister and I were in charge of placing these on the tree, usually on opposite sides of the tree. It was important that these were placed in locations that had easy access so that we could occasionally go up to the tree and ring them.
Finally, we would put the icicles on the tree. These tiny strips of foil were the equivalent of icing on the cake and much like icing on the cake, we completely covered our tree with them. I sometimes wondered why we even bothered with any of the ornaments. They were nearly impossible to see because there were so many icicles on the tree. We would put so many of these on the tree that it almost made it look like my grandparent’s aluminum tree. Somehow when we plugged in the lights, you could manage to see the lights and a few ornaments. Every year when we took down the tree, there was an attempt to keep the icicles so we could use them again the following year. It became a tradition to throw away the wad of icicles from the previous year when getting out the decorations.
I only remember getting a live tree one year. This tree was not friendly for a young man like me who had major issues with allergies. It wasn’t as fun to decorate. It was more difficult to get the ornaments to hang on the flimsy branches. And the angel scraped against the ceiling. And then there were the needles. We went back to our old reliable tree which we would continue to use until we moved to a house on the main street through town. Everyone in town would be able to see our tree and we needed something nice to put in the window. And you couldn’t hide a branch with a big bulb stuck to it against a window.
Singer, Songwriter, Entertainer, Storyteller