My Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown (Photo credit: Elizabeth/Table4Five)

Last year I was about to buy a new Christmas tree when I had a conversation with my son who is away at college. That conversation resulted in this offering (slightly edited for you) which I wrote for my weekly newspaper column.  As I get ready to put up the tree this year, I am not even thinking about getting a new tree–the die is cast–and until it falls apart, it will be part and parcel of our Christmas traditions.

The decision has been made. No new Christmas tree this year. I bandied the idea about and even went so far as to look at some of those fancy pre-lit trees. But I talked to my youngest son, Tyler, who is coming home in a couple of weeks from college, and he said no to a new tree. He wanted our traditional, though far past its prime, spindly Christmas tree. I call it our Charlie Brown Christmas tree, as I have to finagle with the branches to get them not to droop, and wedge it back into a corner, forcing all of its branches forward, thus producing a thicker, more (seemingly) luxurious tree.

Now you may be thinking to yourself that if I want a new tree, I should get a new tree, and not necessarily listen to the nostalgic whims of my son. But, I too, had doubts about getting a new tree. And some of the new ones I looked at were really no better than the one I have, once I put my magic spell on it.

I decorate our Christmas tree as if there is no tomorrow. The branches are layered with ornaments we have received over the years. Homemade and store-bought share space on a tree that groans under their weight.  But the stars of the show are all the decorations that both my sons have made over the years, carefully wrapped in tissue until they are brought out  to be placed lovingly on the tree.

Macaroni sprayed gold and arranged in wreath shapes, reindeer made from those old large Christmas light bulbs with antlers shaped out of chenille pipe cleaners, sleighs cleverly fashioned from popsicle sticks, tissue paper stained glass bells and stars, and pinecones with glitter galore will adorn our tree again this year. Of course we have a million other ornaments, each imbued with memories, or just purchased because we liked them. But really, our tree, like yours, is just an excuse to walk down memory lane for a few weeks in the dark bleak midwinter.

In honour of our cat, we don’t put tinsel on our tree, as a choking cat is not a festive thing to see—and as the rest of the members of my family are quite taken with Kitty Bob, I make this exception without much regret. But if that cat does to the tree what he did to the tree last year, one of his lives is going to be threatened. Thankfully a teddy bear took the brunt of his indiscretion and could be thrown in the washing machine, but I was none too happy.

On a more festive note, once I wrestle the lights onto my “old” un-pre-lit tree, the rest is gravy.  At one time I made my husband do this job, as I found it frustrating. Now I just wind the lights around the tree in a “come what may” fashion, and they actually look better than if I do it carefully. I have learned over the years that by dressing the tree with about a thousand ornaments, those obnoxious wires will effectively be hidden from sight.

A Christmas tree, no matter how battered, is the repository of memories past, present, and future. Maybe next year I will get a fancy dancey pre-lit tree that has all its branches, but this year I will be happy with what I have.

(Note: 1. This is next year, and I will not be getting a fancy dancey pre-lit tree. 2. The cat did not do the unspeakable to the tree last year.)

What traditions do you have that cannot be broken?

English: Closeup of a string of decorative Chr...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

~ The Plan ~

It is mid-November. People usually make their resolutions in September or the start of the New Year. Not me. I am starting on November 16th, and vow that by Christmas I am going to:

1. have a clean house

2. be so organized I will not be able to stand myself

3. have all my book work caught up; and have a plan to keep it up

November

November (Photo credit: Cape Cod Cyclist)

4. renew my “plan” made last March

The following is taken from a column I wrote that appeared in the Kingsville Reporter in March (and on this blog too–but only two people seem to have read it, hence the repeat. I have edited it to fit this sunny month of November):

The plan is to walk every morning; the plan is to have time set aside for writing and (somewhat begrudgingly) managing a home office; the plan is to keep my home if not in domestic bliss, at least not a candidate for the program “Hoarders”; and the plan is to fix meals with an eye to nutrition.

That is the basic plan, with a few variables thrown in—editing a college essay or advising my college age son who lives two hours away on the mysteries of cooking (which though I have not in any way mastered, I have fairly successfully fed a family of four for over a quarter of a century). And to my credit and great relief no one has ever gotten ill from my cooking in the last thirty something years. (There was that incident when I made lasagna from scratch in university for some friends—but I no longer speak of it.) I also provide an ear for my eldest son, and hand out unsolicited advice to both he and his brother—I figure some of it sticks even if it is unacknowledged.

Office management is the hardest part of my plan. I have worked in offices, but in those offices I have had bosses. In this office I am the boss and I am just a little bit too laid back. I would fire me in a minute if I could.

Keeping the house off the television program “Hoarders” is also part of ‘the’ plan. I would give myself a C most days on my housekeeping skills, but on a good day I can see a B- in my future. My cooking skills are a solid B, as long as you do not give me demerit points for convenience foods that come in really handy sometimes. I have friends who ask me in the morning what we are having for supper—and most of the time I have no idea. I think this lends a bit of serendipity to everyday life. Serendipity sometimes translates into a roasted chicken with all the fixings; serendipity also translates into warming up a pre-packaged lasagna dinner.

So, that is my plan for mid-November. How about you–do you have big plans to complete before the holiday season–or am I just a crazy person?

English: A bokeh of Christmas lights.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

O Charlie Brown Christmas Tree!

It's a Charlie Brown Christmas

It’s a Charlie Brown Christmas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The decision has been made. No new Christmas tree this year. I bandied the idea about—even looked at some of those fancy pre-lit trees. But, I talked to my youngest son, Tyler, who is coming home in a couple of weeks from college, and he said no to a new tree. He wanted our traditional, though far past its prime, spindly Christmas tree. I call it our Charlie Brown Christmas tree, as I have to finagle with the branches to get them not to droop, and have to wedge it back into a corner, forcing all of its branches forward, thus producing a thicker, more luxurious (?) tree.

Now you may be thinking to yourself that if I want a new tree, I should get a new tree, and not necessarily listen to the nostalgic whims of my son. But, I too, had doubts about getting a new tree. And some of the new ones I looked at were really no better than the one I have, once I do a little magic with it. Part of the magic is the positioning of the tree and branches, but the other magic is what fills the tree.

I decorate our Christmas tree as if there is no tomorrow. The branches are layered with ornaments we have received over the years—homemade and store bought share space on a tree that groans under their weight.  But the stars of the show are all the decorations that both my sons have made over the years, carefully wrapped in tissue until they are brought out yearly to be placed lovingly on the tree. Macaroni sprayed gold and arranged in wreath shapes, reindeers made from those old large Christmas light bulbs with antlers shaped out of chenille pipe cleaners (has anyone ever really used these to clean pipes?), sleighs cleverly fashioned from popsicle sticks, tissue paper stained glass bells and stars, and pinecones with glitter galore adorn our tree. Of course we have a million other ornaments, each imbued with memories, or just purchased because we liked them. But really, our tree, like yours, is just an excuse to walk down memory lane for a few weeks in the dark bleak midwinter.

As my kids got older, the crafty ornaments started to make way for ornaments that reflected their interests—Pokémon and basketball are at the top of the list, but there are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, various Muppets, and a musical instrument or two. Now that they are more grown up and sophisticated—these ornaments still make their way to the tree—though not placed in places of prominence as they once were.

In honour of our cat, we don’t put tinsel on our tree, as a choking cat is not a festive thing to see—and as the rest of the members of my family are quite taken with Kitty Bob, I make this exception without much regret. But if that cat does to the tree what he did to the tree last year, one of his lives is going to be threatened. Thankfully a teddy bear took the brunt of his indiscretion and could be thrown in the washing machine, but I was none too happy.

Anyway, on a more festive note, once I wrestle the lights onto my “old” un-pre-lit tree, the rest is gravy.  At one time I made my husband do this job, as I found it frustrating. Now I just wind the lights around the tree in a “come what may” fashion, and they actually look better than if I do it carefully. I have learned over the years that by dressing the tree with about a thousand ornaments, those obnoxious wires will quite effectively be hidden from sight.

English: A bauble on a Christmas tree.

English: A bauble on a Christmas tree. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Christmas tree, no matter how battered is the repository of memories past, present and future. Maybe next year I will get a fancy dancey pre-lit tree that has all its branches, but this year I will be happy with what I have.