It’s long been our tradition to cut the family Christmas tree from a nearby tree farm. For every tree they cut and sell, they plant another one to replace it. It’s an eco-business that fits our green lifestyle.
We choose a Charlie Brown tree – one that’s not quite perfect – kind of like us. I like a tree with gaping spaces among the branches. Those make perfect places to display the three discarded birds’ nests I’ve collected through the years – a hummingbird’s delicate weaving, an oriole’s pouch lined with wisps of cotton, and a nest from an anonymous species adorned with ribbon and threads artistically woven into the structure.
According to tradition, a bird’s nest in your tree is a sign of good luck for the coming year. Three nests triple our odds! One nest contains three craft eggs I sprayed gold to represent the health, wealth and happiness I wish for my family.
A collage of ornaments and trinkets decorate our tree. Each one represents part of our family’s genealogy and history. Woven and braided wheat ornaments honor our family’s 100 year heritage as Oklahoma wheat farmers. Mini stockings celebrate our alma maters – Oklahoma State University – three generations of alums and the University of Kansas.
Simple gold bells and blue glass balls remind me of our early-marriage Christmases. They were the first ornaments we could afford on our lean budget; most have lasted as long as the marriage. We cut a cedar tree from the farm and added them to the popcorn and cranberry garlands and simple silver tinsel. The balls and bells still shine and sparkle each year among the branches of a freshly cut tree.
Felt snowmen and small Santas and elves that I crafted from yarn were the first ornaments my sons knew. Soft and safe for their small hands, they could decorate, rearrange and play with them on the tree as they learned the traditions of the season. Now as adults, they enjoy finding them tucked in the branches of the tree.
Clothespin reindeer peek out from the branches – mementoes of the boys’ grade school and Scout craft projects. Fragile paper stars decorated with glitter and child-printed Bible verses hang near the top. Soccer and golf ornaments mark their sports interests.
A set of Wizard of Oz ornaments and a University of Kansas Jayhawk record our son's move to Kansas. Patriotic ornaments honor our other son's 4th of July birthday and several fish ornaments document his favorite pastime and college major. Ornaments from our travels bring back memories of our adventures and places we’ve visited.
Near the top of the tree, we hang red heart ornaments, one for each family member. Also close to the top are dog tags from our beloved pets who shared many Christmases with us. Sadly, we will add another set this year from our special blue heeler, Zip.
Some ornaments are so fragile they have earned a place of honor away from the Christmas tree. Antique glass balls from my grandmothers’ collections nestle safely in a silver bowl we received as a wedding present. Other are tucked gently into my lush asparagus ferns.
Our eclectic and unique family tree is always a conversation starter with friends and family. I enjoy hearing people call out, “Where’s the soccer Santa? Where’s Dorothy and Toto? Here’s my ballet slippers! There’s Ace’s collar!”
Each year, we gather around the tree to celebrate the seasons and reasons of our lives . . . and to share the memories of the past and make new ones for the future.
Read about more Christmas traditions in Decking the Halls - The Folklore and Traditions of Christmas Plants http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewwork.asp?id=50119