Christmas with my grandfather always meant the perfect Christmas tree. He would spend hours cutting off branches, drilling holes in the tree and repositioning each branch until the tree was perfect. My brother, sister and I would sit and watch him, yawning frequently, sometimes falling asleep, and being poked awake by each other, waiting for Grandpa to get the tree perfect so we could decorate it. My Mother put on the lights and her prize ornaments from Germany. We were then allowed to add a few plastic balls and hang the icicles which had to be hung one at a time. When I would get up during the night I would find my Mother still in the living room repositioning each icicle until the tree was a work of art.
When I had my own family the Christmas tree lost much of its perfection. We never quite got the knack of how to choose a tree. One year we could only get it to stand straight by tying a string around the tree and attaching it to the wall with a tack. The tack gave way and the tree ended up on the kitchen floor. This was the end for many of my mother’s precious ornaments that I had inherited. The rest were broken the next year when one of my sons received a clown punching bag as a gift. Need I say more? I started my own tradition listening to Dean Martin’s Christmas album while trimming the tree. This caused a lot of moans and groans when the children became teenagers. One thing remained of my mother’s traditions, I still insisted on the icicles being hung one at a time. I often found myself doing this alone as everybody got bored quickly and disappeared until the next meal.
When the children were grown, one of my daughters invited me to come and help trim their Christmas tree. When she opened the door, I was delighted to hear Dean Martin singing, “Ill Be Home For Christmas”. After the tree was trimmed I was appalled to see my two grandsons, three and four years, throwing icicles on the tree. When my oldest grandson handed me a bunch of icicles, I looked into his shining laughing eyes, said quietly to my self, “Forgive me Mother”, and threw the icicles at the tree.