Remember when it was fun to decorate the Christmas tree? Your mom would dig out the falling-apart box of old ornaments and there’d be oohing and aahing over the clay wreath you made in first grade or the requisite bell with your name engraved from Things Remembered. How that store still exists is a mystery, but whatever.
When I was young, some of my friends had real trees, which was so indulgent I could hardly stand it. They smelled like pine—probably because they were; still, they seemed so exotic. In our family, we dragged the fake tree down from the attic and proceeded to fit branch “A” into slot “A” of the trunk. By the “C” branches, it started to look like a tree, a saggy tree with bent limbs, but a tree nonetheless. It was all very festive and I loved handling the ornaments that made an appearance only once a year. My grandmother’s treasured relics (the floppy snowman, the little green elf) would go under the tree that was wearing a cheery skirt. My mom would artfully place the tinsel on the boughs and sprinkle the tree with fake snow. When I got older, I noticed the silver tinsel looked nothing like icicles. Then it became a chore to take down the tree that might still be up come January—or February—fit it back in the box (it never fit), and hoist it up into the attic. What happened? Oh, Christmas. You’re hard work.
I remember my first real tree though: my roommate bought a seven-footer that brushed the ceiling, its reflection glinting off the oversized mirror that made the room sparkle. The old house, a former hunting lodge, the tree, and the fireplace set the scene for one magical Christmas party. The highlight? An ornament making contest that had our tree decorated in no time.
My co-worker, who is battling her own family’s tree decorating apathy, relayed a brilliant plan she instituted this year: if you walk by the tree, you must add an ornament. With any luck, the tree will be decorated by Valentine’s Day. Knowing the boys in the family though, I suspect they’ll take the circuitous route around the living room.