Sharon is the tall one, Margaret is to your left and I am the one in the cute hat and coat. Inside. The tree looked pretty good that year. But now that I look closely at the background, I don’t see Mom’s signature wallpaper. This may not be our house or our tree. That might explain why it looks that good in 1954.
If you remember Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree and have watched A Christmas Story, you have a clear idea of the Murphys’ Christmas tree adventures. We had floor models and table models. 1955 was a table year, a Charlie Brown tree when theThe Peanuts Gang was in its infancy.
Daddy, let’s get this big white tree. We’ll look for a tree closer to Christmas. Have you seen the neat aluminum ones with the color wheel and light? It revolves too!! (The Look) The Murphy system of tree acquisition was not a tradition, it was a variable. Very simply, the closer to Christmas, the lower the price, the better the possibility of price negotiation. I remember hearing on more than one occasion will you take $2.00? at least once on a Christmas Eve.
Let me tell you about our $2 specials. You turn the blank, thin, and/or goobered up side toward the wall and some years, push it deep into the corner. Then you load it with lights, balls, and icicles as thick as you can to camoflage the damaged areas. As various ornaments broke, they were replaced with whatever, but the icicle habit was maintained. Yippeee! Bubble lights! Hey, how come they don’t work when I tip them over?
The Christmas of ’72 I came out to Litchfield to spend time with my fiance. Herb and Edna had a fairly new artificial tree that came with its own decorations which included red birds, enough to fit on each branch. Hmmm. And their significance would be……..?
The next year, we inherited their bird tree and politely replaced the birds with more traditional fare. That lasted us quite a few years. It could also be assembled at half height allowing us to set it on a table — shades of the past — in our case it was to keep the 13 month old from pulling it down.
He probably wouldn’t have, but the first one is the educational child and we didn’t want to deal with tears, cuts, broken ornaments or electrocution. In 1978, Brenda’s first Christmas, we chanced the full tree assembly. I followed closely, ready to take it down and reassemble. She touched, she didn’t pull. I can’t explain the bows. Relax, they’re gone.
Over the years we bought a real tree twice. The first one lasted technically through July. In other words, I was stepping on needles hidden in the carpet for 8 months. We swore never again!! but one more time we caved in to the plaintive cries of "not fake" or "the smell of pine" or "it’s more like Christmas". The truth is that Christmas is what you make it, but (sigh) ok, we’ll do the real tree thing again. That was coincidentally the year we had two freaky cats, and 7 houseguests. The cats hid in the upper branches and did indeed knock it over at least twice and, of course, once in the middle of the night. We guy wired it reducing their activities to merely rattling it when least expected. Predictably, we were digging needles out of the carpet into the summer months. The 7 houseguests were comparatively well behaved.
A year or two before we moved to Tennessee I found a gorgeous 7 ft. lush tree at KMart in Hutchinson. It was perfect. When we moved we left it with Stan’s brother. That was logical considering the size of our apartment. So for the next few Christmases, we adorned with lights and garland; I bought a table centerpiece, but we left most of our decorations boxed.
Last year I bought a really pretty pre-lit tree, all white lights, and bought some new gold balls and gold ribbon. Let us know when you come to visit so I can distribute dark glasses at the door until we get a dimmer switch. Notice the coordinating bags under it. We didn’t buy each other enough gifts to make it look properly festive so the bags are giftless with only gold tissue for show and color coordination. Ok, they’re fill.
Tomorrow we are decorating for our 33rd Christmas. We have swag lights on the front porch, a wreath by our victorian street lamp, blue lights on two trees back by our woods, and white lights on our arbor bench and rail on the back deck. They aren’t twinkling or flashing, but instead appear to be breathing. Creepy, huh?
Sunday our cell group is coming at 5:00 for our one and only Christmas party. Next weekend we are going out with another couple. Christmas Eve we greet a grown up Brenda and her fiance at the airport. As long as life keeps going, Christmas is as good as you want it to be. This one promises to be great.
Stay tuned for Christmas Traditions.