Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tradition versus Designer Christmas Tree

Last night, I was sitting with the other moms in the warming room at the barn. Our daughters were either finishing or preparing for a horseback riding lesson.

Our conversation turned from riding to Christmas preparation. The decorations had just been put up around the barn, too. The stockings had been hung by the horses’ stalls and a tree was up and decorated in the warming room.

The tree had ornaments right down to the bottom branches. As one mom observed, you can always tell the homes that have children by how the Christmas tree is decorated. Homes with children have trees that have ornaments on the top half of the tree when the kids are little. As the kids get older, the tree becomes a clutter of home-made ornaments. However, trees in homes with no children are perfectly decorated. The ornaments match and are strategically placed, not clumped.

It reminded me of our tree growing up. Each year, my mother bought my brother and me each a new ornament. It was dated on the back in marker, so we could line them up chronologically and see Christmas through the years. Each one had a story to go along with it. When we moved out, we were given our box of ornaments, to decorate our own trees. I still have many of those ornaments.

I have kept the same tradition with my kids. I try to find ornaments that will remind them of places we have been or their current favorites, be it a movie, character, sport or pastime. This summer, we vacationed in the Adirondacks. So, this year’s ornaments were purchased at the Old Forge Hardware Store.

But I also remember the first time I saw a ‘perfect tree’. I was about ten years old. I had gone down the street to a friend’s house. Her parents entertained a lot and the house was decorated to appeal to guests, I suppose.

The tree had bows all over it. No ornaments. And the bows were blue! Yes, blue. I couldn’t get over it. It was so different than any tree I had ever seen. And yet … it was pretty. I was particularly drawn to its symmetry. All the bows were lined up perfectly. It was a work of art.

You may wonder why, after all these years, I still remember that tree. Well, I suppose it was a sneak peak of the designer in me.

You may also wonder how I can have one of those Christmas trees that so clearly defines a house with kids? Well, I do have kids. And it’s their time to decorate the tree. In fact, I let them do most of the decorating for Christmas. It may not be the way I’d do it but that’s just fine! Only too soon they will be off on their own, with their own trees and their box of ornaments.

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