Xmas Trees:Times Past


© irene waters 2016

Thank you to everyone who contributed or left a comment about dressing up, our last months prompt. These can be seen here.

This month we of course have to have a theme of Christmas. Will the disparate geographical locations give a difference in what kind of tree is used? Will a country’s culture play an effect making the different generations from the same country have the same customs regarding trees? Is it purely a familial activity?  This month I would like to hear about your Christmas trees. Is your tree tradition one that is the same as your parents and their parents and your childhood? Did you cut down your own tree? Was it real? Did you have a tree at all? When did you put it up? Anything at all to do with Christmas trees from your past is welcome here. Put it as a post on your site and link back or add it to the comments section here. Don’t forget to put what generation you come from and geographical location (country and whether rural or city). Full details about the prompt rules are here.

Baby Boomer: Australia rural

Our year in NewYork was the only Christmas (to my knowledge) that our family had a real Christmas Tree (and as you can see I don’t remember it photo above). I have been reading on blogs of people preparing to trim the tree, and put it up  at /after Thanksgiving. This made me think of how little tradition my family followed when it came to Christmas, although the meaning of Christmas from a religious aspect was always observed.


© irene waters 2016

We always had an artificial tree. I remember my grandparents had a green artificial tree which was non metal. This allowed them to have Christmas lights on it which we could not with our metal tree for fear of electrocution. My Mum was so proud of her silver tree. She would often say how wonderful not to have to clean up pine needles. Thirteen days before Christmas the tree would come out of its box and we’d shake out the tinsel leaves to uncrush them from their wrapping tube.  We had the joy of helping to erect it, slotting the branches into the holes in the silver trunk. Our decorations were fairly sparse. A bit of tinsel, a few shiny coloured cardboard stars and the odd ornament (usually from a Christmas gift of Christmases past) would hang. Looking at the photo now it is a bit of a sad specimen of a tree and would certainly not pass muster these days but for us it was a time of excitement. It heralded a season of joy, of singing christmas carols, nativity plays, parties but mostly the tree itself was where the presents sat and for us, as children, this was probably the most significant part of the joy of the tree.

I have become a crusty old woman these days and erect a tree purely for my mother (who loves Christmas) or for any children that may be staying with us. This one is a branch from the park which I painted gold. Decorations not much different from my childhood.


© irene waters 2016

This year I am not erecting a tree at all. I hope you join in as I’m looking forward to hearing of your Christmas tree traditions. Certainly seeing a Christmas tree gives me a sense that peace and goodwill toward all is possible. I wish you all a very merry Christmas.


© irene waters 2016

Baby Boomer South Australia city


About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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16 Responses to Xmas Trees:Times Past

  1. Irene, I love your creativity toward the tree – a branch from the yard, painted gold. Being Jewish, we never had a tree when we were kids, and I still don’t. It isn’t my holiday. But I do have an interesting tree story to share.

    Decades ago I was hired as the art teacher for a small private elementary school. I’d worked for years as a professional artist, and had also developed and taught several children’s art classes through a city recreation department. So the new job as an art teacher was exciting but not daunting – I knew how and what to teach in art classes.

    However, the school’s administrator had two required tasks I needed to fulfill. One was to teach the kids how to properly use a ruler – math classes taught how to read them, but none of the kids could use a ruler properly. That was an easy job for me, as I incorporated ruler skills into one art project each year starting in third grade.

    The other task threw me into a bit of a panic. I was supposed to have every student hand make a Christmas tree decoration. I knew how to make all kinds of things and in fact created my own curriculum for nearly every project. And I’d seen and admired hundreds of Christmas trees. But I’d never really had a tree of my own and had certainly never made holiday Christmas decos.

    What if I had the kids making something that Christian families found inappropriate? Or if I had them making a traditional ornament untraditionally? Wrong colors, wrong motifs? Or if all the ornaments were too – what? – I didn’t even know. All I really knew was that I didn’t want to offend anyone, I wanted the kids to have lots of fun and be proud of their creations, and I didn’t want to get fired my first year at the school. (I nearly got fired over glitter, but that’s another story.)

    So I looked up crafts books and magazines (no Internet at that time) and copied or adapted a dozen holiday projects that promised to make a Christmas tree look spectacular. Thank you Sunset and Better Homes and Gardens magazines. We made a different project for every grade level, Kindergarten through sixth grade, and I made sure every kid made two ornaments so they could take one home. (Some kids, with divorced parents, made three.)

    That first year I was a bit nervous as each class came into the school’s main office to place their ornaments on the live tree. At the end of the day, it was indeed quite beautiful, hung with dozens of charming decorations, from tiny cardboard sleighs to “pinata people” based on The Nutcracker. The admin was pleased and so was I. We even had an angel on the top.

    But the magic for me happened the day before the final class before winter vacation. The principal called me into the office, and I worried that I’d done something wrong after all. I was prepared to apologize and explain that my Jewish background left me a bit wanting in the Christmas deco department. That wasn’t what she intended at all.

    She asked me to take all the ornaments off the tree – and carefully preserve them. The tradition at the school was to donate the tree and all the ornaments to a family in need. I removed everything, packing them in boxes. Later that afternoon, a few kids drove with the principal to a house where Christmas was going to be a minimal holiday. I didn’t go but was told that the family loved the tree that our students had made for them, and that was re-decorated at their home.

    Every year after that, I looked forward to making Christmas decorations with our students, one for the tree, one to take home. I figured out that nearly anything made with a full heart was appropriate. By the second year I was requesting a particular kind of tree that let the ornaments show better. I didn’t realize I wanted the most expensive tree on the lot.

    By the third year I started to introduce Hanukkah ornaments as well – there were always a number of Jewish kids in the school. We made paper dreidles, Maccabees, and Jewish stars along with reindeer, Santa Clauses, and snowmen. I never told kids what they had to make but let them choose what would be best for them. Some made one each of Christmas and Hanukkah decos. Everyone had a wonderful time, including me.

    After eight years at that school, I left to teach in Jewish private schools and never made another Christmas ornament again – but if you want to make something special for your tree, I probably have a project for you.

    Thank you, Irene, for letting me share my tree experience with you. You’re welcome to edit or eliminate this if you want.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing Sharon. No I don’t want to edit or eliminate. Your story is important in the mix of Christmas stories. There are so many people that don’t celebrate Christmas and I love the way you eventually joined two celebrations together in a peaceful harmonious way. Allowing people to keep their cultures whilst creating an understanding of others is the only way we are going to eventually have peace in the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Times Past: Xmas Trees | Musings of a Retiring Person

  3. macmsue says:

    Thanks for inspiring me again. Unfortunately I don’t remember much about childhood Xmas Trees, I even asked the oracle ie big brother and he was no help either. My post is here though. http://wp.me/p4d8rD-j4

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. Annecdotist says:

    As a child in the 1960s and early 70s in the UK, we always had a real tree with baubles and chocolate bells and fairy lights and a rather wonky star on the top. But strangely no tinsel! I don’t think I was ever particularly attached to any of the decorations, although I did like the hemisphere baubles made out to look as if you could see their innards. I think I preferred the figures in the crib (nativity) – more like dolls and more of a story.
    Now we have a not overly kitsch plastic tree, although we can’t always be bothered to bring it down from the loft. With three days to go, it’s still up there, so you can see I’m not really into Christmas:
    but wishing you all the best for yours.

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. I have to say I’m a huge fan of the golden stick tree! So unique and innovative. 😉 my mother always went above and beyond when it came to Christmas. Our tree was large, artificial, and coveted in ornaments of all shapes and sizes. Each of them possessing a story from my mom’s life or our family’s. The rest of the house appeared that Santa came over and puked merriment all over our home.

    I wish my house was to the caliber of my mother’s, but collecting sentiment takes time and my family is still quite young. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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