Tuesday, December 13, 2011

O Christmas Tree!

My grandmother has the most spectacular Christmas tree. Those department store Christmas trees don't even come close. Nonnie's tree is a towering Noble Fir flocked with "white snow" and decorated with ornaments collected throughout her life. What is a flocked tree you ask? On the west coast, in the 1940s and 50s, it became popular to flock Christmas trees with fake snow. Nonnie used to do this herself in the backyard with a do-it-yourself flocking kit and a vacuum cleaner (it sounds dangerous and potentially toxic and I'm sure it was). She's held onto the flocking tradition to this day, only now she gets it professionally done. Since she's been buying from the same tree farm since time immemorial, they kindly deliver her tree every year free of charge (being 4'8" and 90 years old doesn't hurt either).

It wasn't until I was older that I learned what an impact her tree had on the community. At night, the tree casts it light on the now busy street in front of her house, a beacon for all those commuting from their holiday shopping. Every once in a while, someone would take the time to pull over, come to her door, and sing their praises. Many would ask to come inside and see the tree in person. Nonnie even received fan mail from admirers expressing what joy her tree had brought them over the years. As a child, and still today, I look forward to Nonnie's tree with eager anticipation. I used to stand in front of it day dreaming at the hundreds of glittering ornaments.

In recent years, Aaron and I have helped her dismantle the tree after Christmas, which requires removing these hundreds of said ornaments and cutting the tree so it fits out the front door. We learned, much to our surprise, that Nonnie doesn't individually wrap and care for each of her ornaments as you might expect, rather, she throws them in boxes. And I mean throws them- I guess after doing it for 80 plus years the charm has worn off. However, there are a few ornaments from her childhood that she takes especially good care of. Today, they are brittle and faded, but have remained with her all these years.

I've shared some pictures of ornaments I've collected (many reminiscent of those on Nonnie's tree) and some that she's given me herself. You can find ornaments like these at vintage or antique stores, especially during the holiday season or from your own grandmother's tree. They make fun and unusual gifts!

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