Wednesday, December 28, 2016

New Traditions: The Life and Times of a Christmas Tree

This year has been rough. There are no two ways about it.  Our family struggles with the tremendous loss of my adoptive father, father-in-law, grandmother-in-law, dear aunt and two beloved pets. Just writing this is difficult.  They are more than mere words on a screen, mere letters arranged in sequence. We loved them, leaned on them, needed them...and they loved us.  A large part of us left with them and we endeavor daily to be whole in their absence.

This Christmas Tree belonged to my in-laws. They bought it together years ago. Enormous and always covered in brightly colored lights, ornaments and a train circling its base. Sometimes the train would derail and Papa would gently place it on the tracks and send it on its way, to the delight of his grandchildren.

My mother-in-law was going to give the tree to charity. 
I blurted, "No. We will take it!"

I was intimidated by its vastness. Ten feet tall and over six feet in circumference. 

What was I thinking? 

It sat in the garage longer than I intended.  
The day I brought it into the house, I cried for so many reasons.
 I also did not know how to put together a million piece tree with no directions, cracked in some places. Daunted but committed, I wanted my mother-in-law to see the tree anew. 
Hundreds of trips up and down the ladder...

 Three days later it was fluffed. I sprayed the boughs with pine essential oil. My arms abraded, as if by some crazed cat, from reaching into the stiff bristles. 
I used floral wire to raise drooping branches.
It was actually soothing- coaxing each branch back to life.
I added 1,200 twinkling lights.
I ordered 200 ornaments from Amazon. 
Then I found 200 more at a local store.
Then 300 more.
All red, I decided, to represent the love of those who went before us.

I looked everywhere for a red finial for the tippy top. 
None existed.
I found a large finial ornament online. I merely pulled the cap off  and turned it upside-down and voila! 

Then I added more ornaments.

New traditions. This is how they begin. 

This is now our family Christmas Tree. We have begun to create our own memories around it

I never truly belonged to a family until now and was mystified as to the ways of traditions. Now I understand this is how they are made; Like Christmas Trees with intertwining lights, bits of wire, bright, shiny moments and love. Mostly love.
Sometimes the train derails and we must place it gently back on its tracks, just like Papa taught us. 

This post is dedicated to Robert, Michael, Mary, Anita, Faerie Princess and McGillicuddy...and all those whom we have lost but still have a home in our hearts.

We miss you. 




  1. Oh Andie dear, you lost so much and your heart must be in a million pieces. Love to you. That tree is astonishing; it turned out so beautiful. It must weigh 200 lbs. Maybe you should put it in a room where you can leave it up year round without it being in the way. I would hate to take it down. May your new year be one of the best and I look forward to seeing your formal garden and how it is growing.

    1. Love you, Donna! May your new year be filled with peace!

  2. Your tribute tree is lovely! I hope and pray you will have a love filled year to come.

  3. Dear, Andie,

    Your family memorial Christmas tree is awe-inspiring. I can't imagine how you were able to do it all alone. Just putting all those LIGHTS on is a Herculean task all by itself, I know. At this point I find even decorating my small table tree a bit daunting, but I wouldn't miss doing it for the world.

    A FUNNY STORY: I've been collecting wishbones from all the chickens that come into this house for twelve or more years. The intention has always been to GILD them with spray paint then place them at strategic intervals all over the little tree.

    Well, years and years went by, and finally the wishbones filled two mugs in my kitchen collection of superfluous crockery.

    I shall be 76 early in the New Year, so this year I figured it was "now or never" for the wishbone project. EVERYTHING is a "production" now, and must be carefully planned, because I haven't been able to drive for nearly three years,and getting ingredients together has turned into a Big Deal. Anyway, FINALLY I spread plenty of newspaper and old drop cloths out on the lawn, placed each of the several hundred wishbones evenly on the surface, sprayed them gently –- twice on one side ––, flipped them, then sprayed them twice on the other. Oh JOY! A longtime dream was about to become reality. Truly exciting!

    Well, GUESS WHAT?

    After placing each, wishbone lovingly on the little tree, I stood back to admire my handiwork, and saw –– NOTHING. The gilded wishbones just DISAPPEARED among the green branches. You'd practically need a magnifying glass to see them. BOO HOO!

    So much for THAT lovely creative idea! PHOOEY! Why I did not realize how it would be before I started collecting the little bones, I can't imagine. I'm usually pretty good at "visualization," but we all need a dose of humiliation every so often to keep us from getting obnoxious, I suppose. };^)>

    At least no harm was done, and maybe a better idea for how to use the golden wishbones will come to me next year or some other time. Any suggestions?

    We always had fresh cut pine trees from a local tree farm when I was a boy. Nothing will ever replace the lovely scent of those beautiful symbols of Christmas joy and celebration, but then again nothing about artificial trees creates the horrible sticky mess of sap and fallen pine needles all over the floor and in the carpets when its time to take the tree down.

    We used go joke about vacuuming up the remains of Christmas every week all the way to the fourth of July.

    Creating NEW love memories to be stored for future enjoyment and as a legacy to our children is worthy occupation, Andie, and that is exactly what you are doing –– all the time, bless you.

    So far, the New Year seems bright with promise. 2016 was terrible in many ways for you, for me, and nearly everyone I know, yet it is ENDING on an upbeat.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR, Andie!

  4. I have found this little poem to be a great comfort in times of sorrow. I hope it may do the same for you, Andie.

    Do not stand at my grave and weep 

    I am not there. I do not sleep. 

    I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow. 

    I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain. 

    When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush 

    Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night. 

    Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

    ~ Mary Elizabeth Frye (1905-2004)

    "Love is eternal," and to me that means that our loved ones remain with us all our days, as long as we remember them with affection and gratitude.

    God bless you, Andie, and everyone close to you.

  5. Olá,
    as boas lembranças enche a nossa vida de coisas boas. E vejo que tens muitas boas lembranças de pessoas queridas.
    Quero te desejar um feliz ano novo e neste próximo ano seja de grandes alegrias, felicidades e nocas conquistas.
    Bjos Deus te proteja..

  6. Magnificent - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope 2017 is easier for you!

    1. Good to see you, my friend! Thank you! Happy New Year!

  7. Andie,
    Only you could make this tree so magnificent! It is a labor of love, but that's your middle name. Traditions are to be carried out through those who have experienced hard times, that's what I think, anyway. Your new year will be sprinkled with gains, and opportunities, that's what I feel.
    Happy New Year,

  8. Oh, Andie, your words speak profoundly. What an amazing tribute to your late family members, and the pets. I would have used the tree too. And, now that you've accomplished the decoration for the 1st time each year hereafter will become easier as you will have the elements you need already on hand, and you will buy something equally splendid each year thereafter. I applaud you !!! Happy New Year !!!

  9. May the New Year be gracious, encouraging, refreshing, and enlightening to us all –– and lots of FUN too!.

    Love and best wishes to every one of you and yours!

    _________ To a Glad New Year _________

    Toot the trumpets! Strike the strings and sing!
    On your feet! Step lively in the dance!
    Age and Youth alike are on the wing
    Going forward: Time moves like a lance
    Let loose by some celestial super strength
    Amidst the muck and mire of our dozing
    Driving us, reminding that life’s length
    Never gives us room for much reposing.
    Esurient? Appease the appetites
    Wholesome and pure. The body, gross and vile,
    Yields but sickly transient delights ~
    Evoking ennui with a knowing smile.
    Awake! A blessed New Year is at hand!
    Resolve to love and give without demand!

    ~ FreeThinke

  10. Beautiful Tribute Post to those you've Loved and Lost... with Mom passing this year during the Holiday Season I can certainly relate to the void left behind. Filling it with Beauty and Meaningful Tradition is an excellent way to pay Homage... Love the resurrected Tree! Happy New Year my Friend, may 2017 not hold as many sorrows as 2016 brought us both. Virtual Hugs from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

  11. __________ On New Year’s Day _________

    Our hope would be to take the roadblocks down
    No more to have to hide behind the walls
    Negativity built with a frown,
    Even though she smiles in gleaming halls
    Welcoming all with fawning falsity,
    Yet yearning all the while for something solid.
    Excitement dies in stuffy halls at tea,
    As hypocrisy makes discourse witless, stolid.
    Rarely may we speak without a filter.
    ‘Tis safer not, lest someone take offense.
    So, fearing to be thought bizarre –– off kilter ––
    Daft –– depraved –– or simply too intense ––
    A fear of ostracism serves P-C,
    Yielding a moribund society.

    ~ FreeThinke

  12. Well, Andie, your Christmas must have been lovely, but now Epiphany is past, so it's time to deconstruct your magnificent tree. I would find it a daunting task, so I hope you've been able to round up some caring competent friends to help with the mammoth task?

    I might be fun to start a new trend: Throwing an Indoor Picnic to Help Celebrate Putting Away the Signs and Symbols of Christmas. You could serve, hotdogs, cole slaw, potato salad, eggnog, and slices of leftover fruitcake. };^)>

    Sound like a good idea, or might it be a prescription for disaster?

  13. ____________ FAREWELL, OBAMA ____________

    We loved you madly once, or so you thought.
    But now your reign is soon to come to naught.
    This makes your story sad for us to tell,
    So let’s be kind, and just forget the hell
    You and Michele have given. Left unsaid,
    We sweetly choose to sing to you, instead.

    Farewell, Obama,
    Adios, Addio, Adieu!
    Farewell, Obama.
    It was no fun, and now it’s done,
    WOO HOO!
    Still now and then, vain Obama,
    When you are strutting
    with the stars beyond belief,
    We’ll recall all the stress
    and the high drama,
    Vanished now with a sigh of relief!

    ~ FreeThinke (with apologies to Cole Porter)


    If you'd like to enjoy some celebratory music –– but with a twist –– come to my blog http://freethinkesblog.blogspot –– We've posted three classic versions of GOODY GOODY with Peggy Lee! –– Ella Fitzgerald! –– and BENNY GOODMAN and His Orchestra with Helen Wood!

    Also, DON'T MISS Western Hero today whatever you do. They've gone all out with GREAT Music Videos Expressing Joy and Deep Satisfaction which is what all of us who've suffered under the now-defunct regime of The Black Knight have suffered for the past eight years.

    Gone too, thank God, is the gnawing anxiety over the prospect of a FEMINAZI DICTATORSHIP administered by Hillary RATCHED Clinton.

    NOTE: Later today –– at 1:00 PM to be precise –– FreeThinke's blog is featuring a home made parody of Gershwin's THEY ALL LAUGHED with a classic duet version by LOUIE ARMSTRONG and ELLA FITZGERALD.

    Please drop by unless you're a Wet Blanket in which case you know where you can go.

    It's PARTY TIME now! The time for QUESTIONS, MOANING, WHINING, –– and DEBATE –– is OVER! at LAST, thank GOD!!!

    HURRAY and HALLELUJAH, you 'RATS had it comin' to ya!!!

  15. I liked the next-to-the-last picture of the tree best, Andie. I think you overshot the mark by putting too many balls on it at the end –– especially so many big ones near the top. They throw the conical shape of the tree out of whack.

    I've waited all this time to tell you that, because I don't like negative comments, but the feeling persists after all these months. I hope you don't object to my being frank?

    Sometimes less really IS more. ;-)


I love hearing what you have to say!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...