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A Tree For the Ages


Not everything gets done on time, but at our house, at least, most things come in at or under budget. Carol and I budgeted an afternoon to take down and pack all of our Christmas decorations, and that’s about what it took. We’re certainly not on time (I had planned to be done a week ago) but a buzzing swarm of minor irritations got in the way, and it wasn’t until suppertime yesterday that the tree came down–and that only after everything else in the line of decorations was gathered in from the eight corners of the house and repacked in six cozy Rubbermaid totes.

And boy, what a tree that was! We put it up on December 10, which means it was on duty for almost five weeks. It had dropped some needles on the floor, but nothing I’d call a torrent, and when we got to picking ornaments off the tree’s high precincts, we discovered something else: The tree had been growing. On the very highest branches, there were new pale-green needles emerging from the branch tips. Those had certainly not been there when we brought it home back in December. This is not a trick we’ve observed in any other tree we’ve had in 33 years of marriage, nor with our respective families prior to that. We’re not sure how we managed it, but we’re going to buy our tree at the same lot next year and hope we get lucky again.

OrnamentsBox.jpgWe broke only one glass ornament this year, and it wasn’t one of the old ones. It was perhaps ten years old, the sort of worked-glass item you see artists making in real time with a blowtorch at home and garden shows, out of thin glass rod. When Carol touched it to take it down from the tree, it literally flew apart in her hands. (There were internal stresses involved, as we vacuumed up fragments six feet away.)

A lot of our ornaments were inherited from Carol’s family, especially after we sold her mom’s house in 2006. Many are old, some extremely old, judging by the fragile cardboard boxes that had held them on store shelves decades ago and still serve in 2010, taped and patched though they may be. What I found remarkable was a price tag on the box shown above, from the venerable (and now extinct) Weiboldt’s department store in Chicago. The tag reads two for fifteen cents.


Maybe it was a clearance sale price for the day after Christmas. I don’t know. I can’t remember the last time I bought anything enduring for less than ten cents. (Hamfest junkmongering doesn’t count, though the junk certainly does endure.) Even the Hi-Flier kites I flew in 1962 cost me a dime. This may take us back to the early 1950s, and possibly to the late 1940s. Carol’s parents were married in 1947. We wonder if this box could be among the ornaments they bought for their first Christmas together.

I snipped off the branch tip shown in the photo at the top of this entry, and put it in a glass of water, just to see what happens. The tree is now out in the garage and will go to Rocky Top in the next day or so. The decorations and the Lionel trains are back in the Harry Potter closet downstairs. I gave Carol a hug while we moved the furniture back into its accustomed places. Christmas is over, but there’s still a little sparkle in the air, and I’m dealing well with the ordinary gloom of winter.

Mission accomplished.

One Comment

  1. Tom R. says:


    I no longer have but definitely remember, from my child hood in the early 1950’s, ornament boxes that looked very much like the one in the picture. We still have many of the ornaments that came in those boxes.

    My wife says that she is sure that some of them are the old “Shiny Brite” ornaments like in the box in your picture. The story was that they were were ornaments my grand parents had which were passed to my parents and finally to me.

    Oh, the New Balsam shoots picture only appears when you click on comments. I wish our tree had been that good. It was so dry when we took it down it was scary — and it had only been up three weeks.

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