The Tree

Our tree, which I remember going out and cutting ourselves in the woods, stood on a stand made of crossed wood, and was as tall as the ceiling. On top was a plastic Santa with lights in his belly and face. I was jealous of those who had stars and angels- but that horrendous old Santa couldn’t be replaced any more than the stockings could (more on them later). We had plain round mirrored balls. I think Mother liked simple elegance. Aunt Amanda once spread a weird webbing made of fiberglass over their tree (and I heard she got many shards in her fingers while handling it.) I have the impression that they had a silver tree once, but I may simply be thrown off by the memory of the light. I distinctly remember the light they had that had a rotating skrim so the tree changed color ever few seconds. That was way cool!
Other than the balls, we had candy-canes, with only an occasional ornament (made by us kids, or given by a friend) to add variety, and, of course, tinsel.
There was a heated discussion every year about the manner of hanging the tinsel once we kids started helping put it on, because there was usually one of us on either side, and whichever level it was- it really should match top and bottom (when we moved to Winchester the tree went into the family room which had a 15 foot ceiling which HAD to be filled). Luckily, we could each go back and rearrange things to our personal satisfaction for the rest of the holidays. One thing most of us agreed upon was that tinsel should not be thrown at the tree in clumps. (actually, that was fun, but it had to be combed down afterwards). No tinsel should ever be draped across branches. It must always hang.
And before I leave the subject of trees, I should mention the year my father was on TV. There was a fad that year of making Christmas trees (usually table top decoration size) by taking toothpicks and sticking them into styrofoam balls, stacking these resulting spiny balls into a pyramid, then spraying the resulting “tree” with flocking or gold or silver spray paint. They could then be decorated with mini-ornaments. Very sixties. Dad worked at Forster Manufacturing, which made wooden products like toothpicks and the little woodens spoons that used to come with Dixie cups, and of course, they were thrilled with (if not behind) this fad. Dad appeared on TV with a full sized tree- I can’t even imagine how many toothpicks it must have taken to make it.

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