Friday, December 17, 2010

Advent Calendar: Grandmother's Tree

When my mother was growing up her mother would on rare occasions tamper with the Christmas tree formula (and it was a formula - see below). One year there was a flocked tree with blue balls - not a favorite. Grandmother was no longer decorating the tree when this one was put up in 1989. But  her caregivers brought out the boxes and put up the tree for her. If you'll look carefully you'll see glass balls with writing on them. There was a set of seven ornaments, each painted with the name of one of her grandchildren. The set was given to her sometime between 1960, when her 7th grandchild was born, and 1968 when her eighth surviving grandchild was born.

When I was helping to clean out her house after her death in 1993 I found the set - now eight balls. Seven neatly painted plus one more scratched out with a knife bearing the name of our dearly loved number eight. I wrapped them carefully and sent each off (with a few other souvenir ornaments) to the appropriate cousin. I smile every time I think of my youngest cousin sitting there, nail file or pen knife in hand, etching out his name and hanging the ball on the tree.

Mother's formula for decorating a Christmas tree - Divide lights and ornaments into sixths. Three-sixths of the lights and ornaments go on the bottom third of the tree. Two-sixths go on the middle third of the tree. One-sixth goes on the top third of the tree. Young children were excused from knowing and executing the formula - but their ornaments were likely be moved once they were abed.


  1. Susan, I can't get over the division of the lights and ornaments. That is just amazing, and almost funny. And what a history with those ornaments.

  2. I think your mom went to the same school of Christmas tree decorating as my mom. Mom's formula wasn't quite as detailed, but if we didn't follow the specification, decorations would likely be relocated to the appropriate area. Hopefully I'm not doing the same thing to my family (but I probably am!)!

  3. Poor youngest having to create his own ID ornament ;-)

  4. Her formula also included graduated sizes of glass balls, didn't it? And only one or two strands of icicles (that's what we called the stuff others call tinsel) at a time?

    Those were iron-clad tree decorating rules in my house...

    I bet your cousins were thrilled to get their ornaments...

  5. Now that is a formula : ) Love the story of the named christmas balls-and I'm so glad you passed them along to-how neat is that!


Comments related to the information shared here are most appreciated. All comments are moderated, and since I am not actively researching right now it many take a day or two for your comment to post. Please know that it will post, and that I much appreciate the feedback.