A small flame

A small flame

Down Memory Lane - Christmas


This is the tenth post in a series of 12 posts scheduled by Mommy's Piggy Tales, which encourages women to record stories from their childhood for future generations to enjoy.

the year we got our Christmas tree

We always decorated for Christmas the first weekend in December when I was growing up. The weather was at it's hottest and most humid-sticky at that time of year, but we would put on a tape cassette of Christmas music, pull out the box of decorations and go to work. We wrapped plastic garland around the stair rail, hung silk-covered Christmas balls in red and royal blue from the curtain rods, and set the large, scented pillar candle in it's yearly place of honor in the center of the table.
But we didn't have a tree.

'Christmas' trees didn't grow where we lived because it was too hot, and although the little general store imported a few small plastic trees from Australia each year, they were far too expensive for my family to buy one.

The Christmas I was 9, that changed. Dad came in one evening a couple of weeks before Christmas and had us all sit down in the living room. He told Mom to close her eyes, and then he laid a large, lumpy bag in her lap. When she looked inside that bag, she began to cry and pulled out a small, plastic tree. It was just a couple of feet tall, but you would have thought my Dad had just brought home a gorgeous 8-foot beauty for all the excitement that tree created in our household.

decorating the tree that first year

We had no decorations the right size for such a tiny tree, but that was a small obstacle for my oh-so-creative mama. She pulled out her button box and we sorted through it's treasures to find things we could use. Yellow buttons and red buttons, almost perfectly round except for a small shank with holes for thread, and clear, colorless square buttons that let the light shine through.

We also found some little, round plastic frames maybe an inch in diameter. They were a gold color with a loop at the top for hanging. Mom pulled out the stack of Christmas card fronts she had kept from years past (in PNG,
everything had a re-purpose), and we spent a glorious evening looking through the pictures, finding things that could be cut out and fit into those frames. A little candle, maybe, or a wreath; a small poinsettia or a tiny church from a wintry scene, complete with glitter 'snow' on its steeple. We strung all of our found decorations onto white cotton string and hung them on the tree. We kiddos were sure we had never seen anything more beautiful!

a {slightly crooked} shot of the tree in it's yearly perch

That tree became a Christmas tradition every year after that. My Mom still has it, tucked away in storage. Over the years, we added more decorations. One year, we even found a tiny angel to put on the top. I think she was made of a clothes pin or something, with gauzy pink wings. In the middle of her forehead, she had silver bead -
as a halo I guess - but my brothers had other ideas and each year they laughingly referred to her as the 'Angel with a BB in her head'.

my last Christmas at home before going to college

Eventually, during furloughs in the US, we bought actual tiny tree decorations and took them back to use on our little tree. But I don't think any of our store-bought decorations were ever as beautiful to me as the buttons and tiny framed pictures we crafted that first year. Now that I'm all grown up, I have among my own Christmas decorations a little round, red button with white cotton string looped through it that brings back the memories of the year we got our tree.



laura said...

What a great story!! Thanks for sharing!

Beth (Elizabeth) LaMie said...

How sweet to finally get your little Christmas tree! I can tell that was a huge moment for you.


The Scrapbook People said...

Another great story. Thanks Rachel!