Putting up the Christmas tree…it was one of my very favorite things as a little girl. Mom and Daddy would deliberate over which was the best choice from the selection of trees in our church parking lot. Once we got it home, Mom would clear a spot for it in the living room – usually in front of the window. Then Daddy would set the tree in the tree stand while mom stood back and checked to make sure it was straight. Lying on the floor underneath the tree, Daddy would then tighten the screws until, finally, the tree stood straight and tall.
Mom always did the lights. As she zigzagged the strands of colorful bulbs around the tree, it was my job to replace any unlit bulbs, taking care not to place two of the same color too close together. Once she finished the lights, then my brother and I helped her hang the ornaments – a sentimental assortment of vintage, homemade, and elementary school Christmas projects decorated our tree. Mom always handled the breakables…her favorite one was the bright pink ‘Merry Christmas’ ornament that had belonged to her mother…a treasured ornament that my mom remembered hanging on their tree as a child.
Next, to add a touch of shimmer, Mom would elegantly drape silver tinsel garlands around the tree, standing back occasionally to check for the proper droop and spacing. Then it was Daddy’s job to add ‘icicles’…delicately placing the slinky silver strands of tinsel over the tips of the branches. Careful not to add too much and ruin the effect.
The final step in decorating the tree was for Daddy to put the star on top. This globe-like tree topper had been at the top of every tree since my parents‘ very first Christmas as husband and wife. Assumed to have been left by the previous owners of their first apartment (a pre-civil war house that they named the ‘Sugar Shack’ which included uneven floors and ivy growing up the inside of the walls), the star featured a multi-colored, rotating cylinder inside the globe that cast prismatic lighting effects all across the celling and walls of the living room.
Throughout my childhood, I spent many a holiday evening gazing up at the enchanting light display…like my parents, it is a permanent fixture in my holiday memories. Today, that same star still graces the top of my parents’ Christmas tree….this marking it’s 49th year. And I am so very thankful to be able to spend another Christmas together with them under the light of that star.