Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: December 1 - The Christmas Tree

The Christmas TreeDid you have a real tree or was it artificial? How big was the tree? Who decorated the tree? What types of Christmas trees did your ancestors have?
My Christmas Tree - 2010

Growing up in Norfolk, Virginia, my earliest remembrances of Christmas trees were of real pine trees.

How I remember the smell of pine and the feel of the prickly needles as Mommy and the two of us girls carried the tree into the house. See... my Daddy was a sailor in the US Navy. And he was away from home more often than not. So, I can count on one hand how many times my Daddy was home from the time I was born, until I was grown and married, for Christmas!

By the time I was about 7 or 8, Mommy was working full time in the FPO [Fleet Post Office], and a real tree had gone out of vogue. Artifical trees were now the fashion.

Mommy had several over the years, but she always had a beautiful green one.

I don't remember my Grandma Beane having a tree in her home, although I am told she did. I simply don't remember it. SHe came to live with us when I was only five years old, so my memories of her home are limited.

Grandma Dreher's house, I am told, used to have a real tree when Mommy was still at home. But after Mommy grew up and married and left home, Grandma and Grandpa put up an artificial tree.

I didn't like Grandma's artificial tree. [Still don't!] It was an artificial white pine. And I mean, literally, white. Grandma used a color wheel in front of the tree to make it change colors. One year the wheel was stuck on red, and the tree looked perpetually pink. [That was horrendous!]

My first year married, my husband and I went to the woods and we cut a cedar tree!

Yes... a cedar tree. It was probably one of my most favorite Christmas trees! Although years later, and with my current husband, I had one that I will forever love and remember!

My ancestors?

Mother's ancestors... her father came from a long line of Germans. And they brought with them the Yule tree tradition. The lonely pine, decorated with blown glass and candles.

Her mother's family were French... likewise a Yule tree, although theirs was decorated more with woodland and edible decorations than glass, and also candles.

Daddy's family were Appalachian mountain descendant's for many generations. The Christmas tree went way back into the family celebrations of the Christmas season. Decorations were usually bits and scraps of whatever could be spared to hang upon the tree. A bit of lace or scrap material tied in bows and ribbons. Strings of buttons. Popcorn or cranberries. Perhaps some lightweight twig or wood craft from the boys. Maybe a garland of handknit rope. And again, the candles.

A few years ago [2004]  while living in Texas, Texican decided to surprise me with a real Christmas tree, knowing that I dearly love a real tree! When I found out the cost... I was overwhelmed! $75!!! Unfortunately it was the last real tree we had... however, this year we determined to start a fund to have a real tree next year even if it takes us all year long to save for it! LOL Oh, but that real tree was a work of art! Perfectly proportioned... and decorated in homemade crocheted snowflakes. How I loved it! [Somewhere there is a photo of that tree, and hopefully before the end of this Advent, I can find it and show it to you!]

The tree pictured above is the tree we have this year.

I show you this tree because it is my first ever "Generations" tree.

This tree contains pictures of all of our ancestors that we have photographs for!
[These two are my mother's parents! Irene Banet and Henry Dreher before the two were wed.]

My dear sister gave me the little ornament frames for my birthday this year [which falls on Nov. 4th]. She knew I had been searching for something to showcase my photos for my tree. And I am thrilled to have these! I have enough frames left to also add all of our grandchildren, so those are forthcoming to this year's tree!

Look out next year, however! I am starting right after Christmas this year making all homemade ornaments for next years tree! And the piggy bank is going full time toward getting a real tree for that celebration!!!

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created in 2007 by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Visit Geneabloggers to participate and to read others' posts on these topics.


Nolichucky Roots said...

What a great idea! An ancestor tree may show up in our house next year.

DianaR said...

We have those hand crocheted snowflakes as well ~ and I'm the one who made them! I love the idea of a generations tree - that is going to be my goal for NEXT year - thanks!!

Anglers Rest said...

I love the little frames which pictures of relatives. I'm going to look out for some here.

Sherry - Family Tree Writer said...

Love your Ancestor frame ornament/decorations! What a thoughtful sister you have! I miss having a real tree,too, but allergies have cropped up! Merry Christmas!