New Michelle Murray

When it comes to Christmas trees, I’m a sap. There. I’ve said it. I have never met a tree I don’t like.

In fact, one tree in my house is not quite enough. I have different rooms begging for the privilege of having a Christmas tree grace the premises. Now don’t get all weird on me, I don’t have an 8-foot-tree in every room. That would be crazy. (Or would it?!?) Trees of all sizes get to coexist in my house. I love each one of them equally.

Genetics may be the cause of this Christmas tree love. As I sit in my childhood home visiting my mom, I am in the presence of two glorious trees in the dining room and three in the living room. Of course, there is one “showcase” tree, the one where we need to have a ladder to decorate the top. This is in the same spot every year, in front of the bay window sandwiched between two other windows.

Isn’t it strange how sometimes you choose where the Christmas tree will go when you move into a place, and that spot becomes tradition? My guess is this spot probably held a Christmas tree even before my parents bought the house. It’s wide enough and has enough windows to share the inside splendor with the world. It also was handy when Dad had to rig up fishing wire to secure the tops of the trees to the window cornices.

Yes, every year when I was growing up, I’d watch Mom and Dad in their Christmas Tree Ballet. “No … it’s tipping to the right … move it the other way. No! Now it’s too far left. Go back a little.”

Mom always was the director and Dad, the performer at this part. With trees up to 9 feet and sometimes almost as wide as they were tall, I still marvel at the way my parents worked together to get such a behemoth December house guest into that spot.

Every year, the tree was real so I saw my parents shimmying underneath to make sure it had enough water. I don’t even want to venture a guess at how many strands of lights illuminated those monster trees. All I know is that the lights of yesteryear burned out at even faster rates than those of today. Dad was constantly trying to replace a bulb here or there or resurrect a whole strand of lights that were “on the blink” before putting them on the tree.

Decorating was Mom’s realm. After the tree was up, secured and illuminated, Dad would help with garland as that was always more than a one-person show. After that, he stepped into the background to let Mom shine. To this day, there can never be too many ornaments.

Each one is special and most likely has a story. Decorating the tree could take days, especially when Mom had two little girls to contend with, equally as thrilled about decorating but with homemade treasures made in elementary school. Every year, Mom was thrilled with this new construction paper bauble or that new rudimentary clay creation. Our tree was eclectic, traditional, and loved. Somehow, some way, the tree was always deemed perfect by the family.

Since I’ve had more adult years than “kid years” now, I have multiplied my precious memories of Christmas trees past. I remember cutting down a tree with my husband for our first Christmas tree. We had a bit of the “Christmas Tree Ballet” that year, too.

I remember going on bedrest in December when I was expecting my first baby, and I was unable to do any of the Christmas preparation I so love. I was pretty forlorn about not being able to decorate a tree. This is when two Christmas Angels stepped in; my mother-in-law brought a small tabletop tree to my hospital room, knowing I needed a little Christmas. (This tree has since been deemed “Nic’s tree” as it was Nic who I was safeguarding while on bedrest for 3 months.)

The other Christmas Angel was my mom, who decorated a cute little artificial tree in the living room of my house. Of course, the ornaments were placed to perfection. It turned out Christmas trees could come in all shapes and sizes and brighten my world even when I didn’t have my own hands in the decorating.

In later years, I remember getting a smaller Frasier fir to sit on a table, out of the reach of our then only toddler. We discovered that kids revere a tree just as much as adults, so every year after that, we went back to a “full-sized” tree.

I remember having my two little boys help me decorate our Christmas trees throughout the years. Sometimes they were thrilled to put up “their” ornaments, as I usually gave them one special one each year. Sometimes, they just wanted their ornaments up, “but this year YOU can put them on, Mom.” And sometimes, they didn’t even care to open their special boxes to revisit their precious ornaments, so I left them alone.

This year, I am “opening the vault.” I am going more eclectic than ever. Those forgotten boxes are seeing the light of day and ornaments galore will grace our tree. And the family will look at it and deem it perfect.

Michelle Sprout Murray is a freelance writer who lives in Mason City with her family. She may be reached at queenmom@mchsi.com.

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