Friday, November 30, 2007

Back in the Day

Growing up, we always had a live Christmas tree with lots of handmade and one-of-a-kind ornaments...there was the cotton ball snowman, the pipe cleaner candy cane, and those dough ornaments that look like cookies but are hard as rocks. Most importantly, there was a TON of tinsel. We placed it carefully, just a few strands at a time, that was the rule...but we covered nearly every branch. Our living room had a red, textured carpet, and I can remember what it felt like to run your hand over it to pick up the stray tinsel, hooks, and pine needles after the decorating was done.

Besides the ones I had lovingly made, I had several favorite ornaments. The brown styrofoam gingerbread men (complete with styrofoam house) topped the list, and I've been checking ebay on and off to see if I can find anything luck yet. There was a little metal bell that always got placed last, near the top of the tree, and of course MY angel. We each had one, my brother, my sister and me. I think my brother's was dressed in green, and had a young boy's face. My sister's had a blue dress, and looked like a grown-up to me. That seemed to fit in my mind, since my sister is 12 years older and I never did see her as a "kid"...I wonder if they still have their angels. In an effort to downsize her Holiday decorating, my Mom gave me mine quite a few years ago...she looks like a little girl with long blond hair, bare feet and a red dress, and she used to hold a little book of songs out in front of her. The book fell apart when I was maybe 10 years old, so I made another one (complete with the lyrics to "Angels we Have Heard on High") and glued it onto her hands.

This past Sunday, when we were decorating our tree, twenty-something years later, I handed my angel to E. The first thing she did was rip that book out of its hands. I'm not sure wasn't done in anger, the book just didn't belong somehow. Then she carried it around, giving it hugs and calling it "Baby". I should reclaim it for its own protection, but she loves that angel just like I did...I don't have the heart to hang it out of her reach. Every day I find Baby somewhere on the floor, and I put her back on the tree for E to find. I wonder what E will think in January, when we wrap Baby in bubble wrap and pack her away in a box in the basement. Perhaps we'll have to do that while she's napping.

Another of my favorites was a metal ball that played a bird call. It ran on batteries, I think, and sounded like a cardinal. I can't remember if it was my Mom or my Dad who hated it, but I was only allowed to leave it on for short periods...with no volume adjustment, that metallic sound just pierced your skull and reverberated there for hours. But I LOVED it. Our current tree has a little house that plugs into the lights and plays "Up on the Rooftop" also lights up and has characters inside who move around in circles. It is a significant advance in technology over the 1970s edition of the birdy ball, but will probably leave M and I feeling the same as my parents did. When we turn on the tree lights, the song starts, just one verse and it's over. E stands in front of the tree and dances, arms waggling, butt shaking, almost jumping but getting only one foot off of the ground. When it ends, she asks, "Oogain?", and I push the button to start the song over. Currently, my limit is 5 "Oogain"s, but her dancing is the only thing that keeps me from dropping the thing in the garage sale box.

For the love of children at Christmas...some things never change.


Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr