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.