We are putting up our Christmas tree this evening; a twelve footer that can be seen in the living room, dining room, kitchen and sun room. Yes it is artificial, however, there was the great disaster of 2002 that involved a crooked trunk on our last live tree that caused it to keep falling. It fell three times before we realized it wasn’t our tree erecting skills that were lacking but the tree trunk itself. Many broken ornaments, scratched oak floor boards and tangled light strands later, we realized the problem, sawed off the warped end and tried to fill in the gaps of a now six foot tree from its original fourteen feet with seriously limp limbs and frayed tips. We called it our Charlie Brown tree and stuffed it with boughs of hemlock, pine, and magnolia that we cut from the woods behind our house. Our two story entry just begs for a spectacularly large tree but memories of the last real tree have stopped us from having another live one.
You see, I have many treasured ornaments from travels and my son’s childhood. If they had broken, quelle horror!
So, as I am preparing for this evening’s events, I am unwrapping my carefully stored tree trimmings. There is a star with my son’s six year old face in the middle; a time when Santa was part of our holiday joy. There are small masks that I found in Venice, Italy and teardrops and fruit that I picked up in Paris, France. Some of the Victorian ones came from Tennessee on our tenth wedding anniversary and some of the others from our brother-in-law’s mother when she downsized. The Santa face with painted beard is on a starfish from Chincoteague, VA, a place that we visited almost every summer when my son was small. At twenty-one, almost twenty-two, he hasn’t accompanied us on vacation in many years. One Christmas, a friend and I went to NY to see Rockefeller Center and to experience the city amidst its holiday glitz. I am reminded of this by the tall lady liberty ornaments I found at Macy’s.
There are wedgewood ornaments from Washington, DC and the Biltmore House. It seems I’m always finding some little keepsake for my tree that transports me to another time and place each year as I unpack the treasures that remind me of precious times and priceless memories. It’s really much more than a decoration, it’s a testament to my life. As for that fresh tree aroma, I’ll just light my pine scented candle and squint a little when I look at my lovely tree.

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