On Sunday our Christmas tree went up.
Since before we were married, my wife and I have put up a traditional evergreen tree. When our sons were young, putting up a tree involved a trip to a farm or the bush, where we tramped about to pick the perfect tree.
What looked so fine in the bush often was more tree than would fit in the house. Those excess branches occasionally were used to fill in holes where branches had disappeared.
Eventually, our Christmas tree hunt changed to a store. Balsam, scotch pine, and Fraser Fir have all appeared in our living room. We prefer the Fraser.
Our Christmas trees would never grace a decorator magazine, but we do have a theme. It’s the family theme.
Every year, Marnie and I have bought ornaments for the tree. For our first Christmas, Marnie’s parents gave us a Hallmark ornament that said “First Christmas.” My Aunt Marguerite sent us a gold-plated church from St. Croix.
The year Brendan was born, we received several Baby’s First Christmas, an ornament that was made from a sliced egg, and a gold-plated rocking horse from Christiansted.
Each year thereafter, we added ornaments for the boys. When they were five, they began picking their own ornaments for the tree. A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle for Adam, a glass globe of the world for Brendan were a couple of choices.
As they grew up, a wizard was added, as were a skier, snowmen, pewter angels, and a canoe.
When the boys’ grandfather was travelling to China, he brought back some Chinese bamboo ornaments.
As we did different things, other ornaments came into our possession. On the tree is a coloured glass ornament that Marnie received from the Girl Guides. Our tree also carries a pewter ornament I received from the MacKenzie Heritage printery.
Ornaments were added from family trips. There is a painted sand dollar from a trip to Florida with the boys. There are some pewter ornaments that came on trip to Nova Scotia.
On Sunday as we unwrapped the stored ornaments and began dressing the Christmas tree, we shared stories and memories. Each of the boys’ ornaments are dated with the year they first went up on the tree. They tell stories of what were their interests at the time.
Many ornaments are handmade. There are Santas and snowmen made from dough. The canoe is birch bark. There are some painted driftwood ornaments that came from their grandmother.
Atop the tree is a handmade angel. When Marnie and I put up our first tree, we didn’t have something to top it. She went into her sewing room and created this ornament with the understanding that we would replace it the next year.
It has just continued to find its way to the top of the tree ever since. It is always the last ornament that goes on, and in our house the tree wouldn’t be complete without it.
It isn’t a decorator tree. It doesn’t have a theme. The ornaments are a myriad of sizes. Yet it is a family tree filled with memories of raising a family and watching our sons grow up.
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