My main complaint about putting up the tree each year is that assembling and shaping our artificial tree results in my hands and arms being scratched up to the point of bleeding. We bought this tree two years ago and made sure we got a pre-lit tree. This was supposed to make it easier.
Last year my friend Stephanie posted on Facebook that she doesn't actually take her artificial tree down each year. She just covers it in plastic and stores it standing upright. I thought that was a brilliant idea! So last year, instead of taking the tree down, we wrestled it out the front door and into the garage, wrapped it in heavy-duty plastic and stored it standing upright.
I expected that this year, Grandad would just haul the tree back into the living room, plug it in, and it would be ready to decorate. Not so! When we plugged it in, the lights on several limbs did not come on. I then spent the next 3 days, replacing bulbs, searching for the ends of the plugs and re-arranging them. I even went and bought a Light Helper-Pro. For a cost of $20, this little tool is supposed to fix your mini-lights. It did not, but it was useful for removing burned out bulbs and it will help you determine whether or not the lights have power. After three days, I went to Walgreens and bought a strand of 100 mini lights and just strung them over the burned out bulbs. Then it took me two nights to decorate it. This is a 7' tree and I'm only 5'1" tall. That mean climbing up and down the stepladder numerous times. Here's the finished product.
I once answered an online quiz that included the question "If your house was on fire what would you grab as you ran out the door?" My initial answer to that question was "absolutely nothing." I would be happy to get out with just my family in one piece. But after giving it some serious thought I want to reconsider. If I can grab something on my way out the door, I want to save my Christmas ornaments.
I've been collecting ornaments since we got married 35 years ago. I have several hundred ornaments. Many of them are sentimental favorites. The first year we were married my employer and his wife gave us a Norman Rockwell collectible ornament. It was beautiful and I loved it and I added a new Norman Rockwell ornament to my collection each year for about seven years. Unfortunately, a few years ago, I had all eight of them displayed on my fireplace mantle and Grandad bumped into them, they fell and every single one of them shattered. Not a single one of those ornaments survived.
The first year we were married, our budget was extremely lean. There wasn't a lot of money for ornaments. I bought kits for sequined ornaments and spent the month of November making these ornaments. The rest of the tree was filled with candy canes and pipe-cleaner ornaments. That was what we could afford.
These two ornaments are the first ornaments I remember buying. The baby reindeer is hand-painted on porcelain and is very delicate. The wreath is made of plastic beads, but it looks like crystal and is beautiful on the tree. Both of these were bought in 1976 and have held up extremely well.
When our kids were born, I made each of them an ornament. In addition, I bought or made an ornament for them each year of their life. When they married, each of them received a box of their own ornaments at their bridal shower. It was special to pass that tradition on to them.
Of course, these handmade ornaments from their school years are among my favorites. When my daughter used to decorate the tree as a teenager, she always put them in the back so they didn't show. I prefer them front and center.
This set of three ornaments is among my prized possessions. They are so special to me that I don't put them on the tree. They are in a shadowbox. Here's the story behind them. The silver mercury-glass ornament at the top was from my husband's paternal grandparents' Christmas tree. The angel in the center is from his parents' tree. The red box at the bottom was a gift from Grandma Valenta the last Christmas she was with us. She prayed for us over this box and told us it would represent her love and prayers for our family.
This butterfly is special because Grandad stole it for me. If you know him at all, you'll know that this is probably the only thing he has ever stolen in his life. And, I'm sure he went to confession the next day. It's made out of plastic, wire and glitter and is probably worth about fifty cents. We were at a fancy dress up party at the Corpus Christi Town Club, sometime between 1975 and 1979. The trees were all decorated with these butterflies and we were both drunk. I begged him to get me one and he did. I treasure it because it makes me smile.
This set of ceramic kings was a gift from my sister Bylinda. The sequined Santa Claus was made by my sister-in-law Laurie. I love getting ornaments as gifts.
These angels are made of pasta. One of my former employers and his wife were of Italian descent. Every other year they hosted a big Italian Christmas party. These were party favors.
This Santa and his reindeer ornament has a fun story. I got it in a gift exchange at work. It was a gift from my boss, but one of the other administrative staff picked it out and purchased it. It turned out that I drew her name that year and got her exactly the same ornament. We still laugh about it.
For at least 30 years, the place I worked had an ornament exchange for Christmas each year. These are two of my favorites from that exchange.
I especially like this "Joy" ornament. When you put it on the tree you insert a mini-light in the back and it lights up. I have two of this style that my kids gave me.
When we travel, instead of souvenirs I buy Christmas ornaments. The Coca-Cola bottle came from our last trip to Las Vegas. The amber glass bulb is from the Sandwich Glass Museum on Cape Cod. I bought it this summer on our trip to Massachusetts. The red star is made of glass and I bought it because I have a thing for stars.
Some ornaments don't have any sentimental value. I just like them. The Mary Engelbreit teapot is probably the most expensive ornament in my collection. I thought the other one was beautiful. It was made in Germany and is made of glass with a detailed castle inside.
But beautiful ornaments don't have to be expensive. Both of these sequined ornaments came from Dollar Tree. That means they cost $1 each.
And this is my newest ornament. It was a gift from my friend Janna and I love it. She went to North Carolina on vacation last summer. We're going there next summer for my niece's wedding. I can't wait.
I have hundreds of other ornaments, but this will have to do for now. I've got to pack. I'm meeting Grandad in Houston tomorrow afternoon for a weekend with Nick and Marie. We'll all be going to the company Christmas party together on Saturday night. But first we'll be doing a little Christmas shopping.