This is the time of year that I begin to really miss my childhood and it seems the older I get, the more I long for those simpler times.
Today, I was remembering helping my mom set up the tree in our living room. We had an artificial tree, nothing fancy. It probably cost about $20 or $30 back then, if that and we probably got it at Kmart. My memory isn't as keen as it used to be, but there are many things I still remember so bear with me.
After unboxing the tree and getting it into the stand, Mama would pull out the decorations. We'd always put the lights on the tree first. Usually, we had colored lights because Mama thought they were pretty. Some years later, we'd change to white lights, but during my childhood, we had the bright colors.
When the lights were on, she'd pull out a package of tinsel. I always loved seeing that package of tinsel because inside the plastic wrapped box was a world of fun. Those shiny, silver strands of tinsel were the best! After she slit the box open, she'd let my brother, sister, and I begin to drape them onto the tree limbs. We did our best to be dainty about it, but every once in a while, when she wasn't looking, we'd throw the tinsel high into the air and watch if fall randomly on the tree. Before we knew it, that dull, dark green tree was covered in shimmery tinsel. To me, it didn't need anything else. I thought it was beautiful just like that, but Mama loved the decorations, so we always put them on next.
The first decorations I remember were Shiny Brite ornaments. They came in a box and were very fragile, blown glass ornaments. Over the years, those ornaments eventually got broken. I hate it because now those things are collectable, and I'd give anything to have some of them. But anyway, I digress.
Among those beautiful glass ornaments were specialty ornaments. I don't know when she started doing it, but at some point, in our childhood, Mama began buying one special ornament a piece for my brother, sister, and I. She'd choose a unique ornament that represented some accomplishment in our lives or something that catered to a special hobby or event we'd participated in. Some years we'd get to help choose the ornament and other times; she'd choose it for us. It became an annual tradition and Mama said, "When you grow up, you can take your ornament collection with you to start your own Christmas tree." And that's exactly what we did.
As each of us married, we gathered our box of ornaments and took it with us, leaving Mama and Daddy's tree practically empty. But it wasn't long before Mama was choosing new ornaments to don the tree. She especially loved the unique Hallmark ornaments. They were costly, but she didn't mind. We'd always marvel at the cute ornaments she chose. Each one marking something special in one of our lives.
When the grandkids came along, she'd buy ornaments for them, too. There was never a shortage of Christmas ornaments in the house!
That tradition of buying an annual Christmas ornament continues through our family to this day.
It's always fun to look back at our collections and remember what the ornament represented but more than that, remembering the joy something so simple brought to Mama.
My box of special ornaments has disappeared. I've looked high and low for it and can't find it. All I can think is during our last move, those ornaments were either left in the attic or got lost on the moving truck. They've just vanished, and it makes me sick. I've thought about trying to replace many of them, but I can't even remember all the ones I had back then.
Now I make my own ornaments and make ornaments for others, too. I try to do a special handcrafted one each year. To me, it's a way of using my talents to bless others, but I still miss my childhood ones. Nothing can ever replace those.
I remember sitting on the sofa late in the evenings as a child. I'd sit there and just stare at the Christmas tree. The twinkling-colored lights looked so pretty and the way they lit up the tinsel next to them was magic.
When I was much, much younger, we used to have an aluminum Christmas tree with a multi-colored wheel that sat underneath it. As the wheel slowly turned, it would emit a color onto the tree - Red, Yellow, Green, or Blue. I loved watching the color change and would find myself hypnotized by the constancy of it.
Oh, those days seem so far away but how fresh they are in my memory. If I could travel back in time, I'd find myself once again in our little living room laughing with my siblings, tossing tinsel in the air, and waiting for the big day to arrive.