Merry and Bright

The title of this post could just as easily be Merry, Bright, and Early. I was awake at 4:30 this morning, which actually feels luxurious considering the 3:00 mornings I've had a couple of times recently. I probably could have gone back to sleep, but my mind was immediately geared up with things I need to do today. Yesterday was the day we chose to put up our Christmas tree, and in all the hubbub, I totally forgot I have a guild Christmas party today. I'm supposed to bring something for potluck, and I have absolutely nothing. Time for some quick thinking, and an early trip to the grocery store, because time marches on, don't you know?

But to get back to the tree, we live within spitting distance (almost literally) of half a dozen tree farms. We like Hagg's just over the hill from us. Take a look at this image and see if you can guess why we head over there year after year:

Mike takes bagging the elusive Christmas tree very seriously...and when you're getting your tree for ten bucks, it's going to be a Charlie Brownie one.

Did I ever tell you that I played Sally in our production of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" when I was in the 9th grade?

And if you don't think it was a challenge getting my fine and straight hair teased up and looking like hers, then you are seriously underestimating how uncooperative my hair is. I wish I had a picture of the cute costume my mom made for me. We were into Polaroids back then, and those pictures just didn't stand the test of time.

So here it is...a Charlie Brown Christmas tree if I've ever seen one. It just needs a little love.

I like going here too because they have a gift shop set up in their barn. You can find decorations for your home and table.

My pictures didn't turn out very well in here, but they have tables of hand-made items. I'm always threatening to start in January and make up a bunch of stuff for next year. So far, I haven't made a single thing. Also, I enjoy looking at the "vintage" items. And it always irks me when I see "vintage" items from my own childhood. Who're you calling vintage? Coke in glass bottles? Really?

And given that it was burr-ass cold, it was a perfect day to go home and have Spanish coffees.

And I made some cranberry salsa, which was somewhat disappointing...and now I have six jars of it. It's fine, but it doesn't hold a Christmas candle to the chutney I made a couple of weeks ago.

So, while I was doing that, Mike was getting the tree in the stand. He had so much spirited help too!

It's been too cold for Smitty to be outside, which has caused him no small amount of disappointment. But this tree business...now this has some serious potential. And these lights! Well, here, let a cat help out.

"Wow! And a bed right under the tree!! This will be a great napping spot! Thanks!!"

So, in addition to having a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, we are still putting up the same ornaments we had when we celebrated our first Christmas together in 1975. Ours is a "traditional" tree with traditional ornaments. Nothing fancy and matching for us...no siree. Here's Erik's little ornament he made while he was in kindergarten. With his October birthday, he started kindergarten a year late, so this would have been Christmas of 1985.

This one is from Matthew's preschool, about the same time.

And this one is Matthew's too.

Erik made this next one when he was in cub scouts.

This is our ornament to remember our daughter, Holly, who was with us such a poignantly short period of time in 1983.

I used to be involved with an organization for folks who had losses in pregnancy many years ago. We made these tissue paper ornaments as a fundraiser one Christmas. We made ornaments every year, but this is the only one we hang on the tree any more.

This next ornament is older than I am. My mother never wanted to put it on the tree. She didn't like it because it was old and not as fancy as the newer ones. To this day, I don't understand why she didn't like it, but I always loved it, and I always begged her to let me put it on the tree. When Mike and I got married, she gave it to me, and I still love it as much as ever. It always makes me think of her. A lot of family garbage meant that I received almost nothing of her things after she passed away, and so this ornament is special for many reasons.

(I always like it when I see a picture I've taken and my reflection appears somewhere in the image.)

Of course, there are the cat ornaments. This is Gracie's ornament...it fits her perfectly for so many reasons.

This is George's ornament, aka Captain Cattastic. (Sniff.)

This is our sweet little Krissy ornament. She went to the rainbow bridge before I started blogging, but she is one of our most memorable kitties. We had her for 19 years, and so we had her longer than any of our other kitties. She was a tortie calico and very talkative. She had a lot of personality.

Some of you might remember the travails I went through trying to find an ornament for Smitty's first Christmas last year. I ended up getting this one online.

I can't even remember when I got this one, but I think I bought it just because I liked it.

When I was a working person, I used to provide clinical supervision to other social workers who were accumulating clinical hours in preparation for taking the national licensing exam. One of my supervisees gave me this next one.

And for all his helpfulness, Smitty seemed to know that batting at the ornaments was a no-no. He was as sweet as can be while we decorated the tree, hanging out on the tree skirt the entire time.

And there it is. The Stanbro Christmas Tree 2013.

Of all the Christmas trees we've had, I think this one is the Charlie Browniest!

So it's just about time for me to get my winter woollies on and pick out something from the grocery store. It's a busy day ahead. I hope you have a great Monday!

25 comments from clever and witty friends:

gpc said...

I love it, and love the stories, too. I need to get a real tree, but every year I end up leaving town for part of december and I'm afraid to leave a real one unattended, so again this year, my pathetic little fakey will have to do.

Carol said...

I didn't put a tree up this year, but I love that tree and all your sweet ornaments. Cute kitty, too! Makes me wish I had gotten my fake tree out of storage. :O)

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I just love Charlie Brown trees, they have such personality to dress up and all your little treasures do dress it up nicely.

Judy1522 said...

Your tree is beautiful and they don't have to be perfect. We have ornaments on our tree that I bought before I had even met my husband and I love getting them out each year. I don't put up the ornaments from my kids anymore as they spent so many years begging me not to that I finally agreed to quit doing it. I have kept them though and get them out to look at each year.

Nancy M. said...

Your Charlie brown tree is beautiful and your blog was great to read.

Lee said...

I love ornaments with back-stories. And I especially like the old and unfancy ornament, very similar to ones my grandmother's tree always bore, and I found some one year and bought them. I always think of her when I put them on the tree. Remembering the stories gives us a greater appreciation for our lives and those we love.

Junebug613 said...

It's nice to see someone that loves the not-so-perfect trees. I love all of your ornaments and the stories that go with them. I think your tree is absolutely fabulous!

Jeanie said...

Your tree and ornaments are lovely and full of personality and memories! I have a Christmas tree farm near me that is very similar. The prices are great and if the farm is closed, you cut your tree and leave your money in a box by the entrance.

Janarama said...

I love your tree and how you decorated it. Decorating it with handmade ornaments and ornaments that have stories behind them is the best. My tree is decorated much the same way as yours. I have a lot of ornaments which were made by me, my sisters, my mom, one of my friends and her mom. It's always fun to remember the stories behind each one. Looks like Smitty found a new home for the holidays.

Teresa in Music City said...

Oh I love it!!!! Charlie Brown would be proud :*) With all the "perfect"-ly manicured trees nowadays, it is so refreshing to see a real tree in all it's glory - great job!!!

We do a traditional tree to except that we have finally begun to put up a pre-lit rather than real. With just the 2 of us, and not even been home much during the season, neither of us is really in the mood for a lot of decoration. And a live tree would probably die before Christmas from lack of water :( We still put all the old ornaments on - like you, I've had a few since my very first tree in 1973. I always buy a new ornament every year to add to the mix (okay, usually more than one!)

Cath said...

I love your Xmas tree Barbara. No real ones where I live ....don't think they would survive the heat! Also love all the kitty ornaments....such a lovely way to recognise each kitty in your life. I also read your story about your daughter which really choked me up. I can only imagine what it would be like to lose a child and then probably not properly realise. I am thankful everyday for having 3 healthy babies. Love and hugs to you Barbara, it was so brave of you to post your story.

Vicki W said...

I like it! It has personality....unlike my tree-from-a-box.

SoozeM said...

It's gorgeous!! And I am sure that as soon as you leave the room Smitty's self-control will rapidly evaporate and he will give those ornaments a good batting! I caught my 12yr old son (human, not cat!) lying under our tree last night batting at the ornaments!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a sweet walk through your ornament memory lane. Bittersweet for sure! I love your Charlie Brown tree....I would have sought out such myself!! Hugs.....

Karen said...

I think your tree is delightful. It really does hold some precious memories for you.

Meg said...

What a great post. From the beginning to the end.

We have two Christmas trees - one real, one artificial. My real tree has to be what I call an 'imperfect perfect tree.' That i no easy feat. I would bet i could find one at the $10 tree place. I love the very old-fashioned ones, just like out of an old movie. No one apparently does although Pottery Barn had one last year (haven't looked this year) on their website that looked like my perfect tree.

Read all about Holly - makes me sad. I can't imagine. What a beautiful baby she was.

Have a good Tuesday.


Jacque said...

At 14, Moses does more napping under the tree than batting at the ornaments, now, but he looks puzzled each year as to why the humans bring a tree indoors. LOL Love the look at your special ornaments...we are traditional, too, with lots of memories on our tree and very few matching things! One of my favorites is the ornament you made for me three years ago - a fabric stocking with a reindeer stitched on. Warm hugs to you, my friend!

kc said...

When we had our little farm(ette) in the Blue Ridge mountains, we had the bright idea to plant fir trees all around the perimeter, as a windbreak. (we were on a hill that used to be a cow pasture...breeeeezy!) So, we engaged the Forestry dept, and they were kind enough to give us (for a fee, yes, but a very SMALL fee) about 900 seedling. Yeah, 900 of those jokers. Long about planting #875, we figured out that it was the pine trees giving me the migraines....but, that's neither here nor there...the point of my ramble is that somehow, we double-planted a couple of those suckers, and when they were about 4-5 feet high, it became obvious that one of 'em had to come down. Sooo, we chopped it down (more like SAWED it)in a matter of minutes, and dragged it up into the house. Stuck it in a 5 gal bucket and stepped back to admire it. HAHAHA! Talk about Charlie Brown tree!! When it was in the ground, next to brother, it looked much fuller. Lopsided, maybe, but fuller. Just like yours, there seemed to be a big growth spurt, where all you saw was trunk...and a spindly trunk it was. But, ya know what? one of my girls decided THAT's exactly where we should hang the porcelain carousel horses! And it worked! From then on, we always had to find a tree that had a bare middle, so we could adequately display the carousel horses, going around the trunk.

I love all your personal & sentimental ornaments, especially the tributes to your precious daughter & all the kitties. We kept much the same, but for our pups. When we moved into our camper full time, all our ornaments & decorations were disbursed (hopefully equally!) to the twins. Now that we're back in a home, we've slowly begun accumulating again. Our tree is artificial, and not very tall (2 feet?), but the price was right - $2. And the lighted grapevine reindeer out front? $5 a piece, providing we took them both! oh yeah, baby, who could pass that up?? Not us! Now they're right outside my sewing room window and they give me endless pleasure at night, watching their little heads bob up & down!

Thanks for bringing back those memories!! Hope your dinner was fun!!

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

It's the prettiest tree I've seen so far this year. Charlie Brown had the best idea about trees. Small, lots of room for dangling ornaments, smelling good for a long time, space under for precious kitties and gifts...it's all there.

Brown Family said...

Having a child whose name is Charlie Brown, I love your tree and the decorations. Having those memories are better than a perfect tree any day!

quiltzyx said...

Oooh! I love your tree - and all the wonderful memories you hang on it. Back when I was a kid, my mom had ornaments similar to that one too - but we did always hang them on the tree. My mom's thing was TINSEL. She always put it on piece by piece by piece & as a kid, I wasn't allowed to hang any of it. (She also always took it off the tree & stored it in a brown paper bag!) When I was old enough to be trusted to hang it...I really wasn't to be trusted because I usually threw it on the tree in clumps! LOL

Michele said...

Your tree and ornament story was just wonderful. Thank you for sharing it.

Little Quilt Shop said...

Sweet!! Oh How i miss Oregon....you are blessed living there!!....fine people too!! Thanks for sharing!!....I sent our kids decorations with them...so I miss having them now...argh!!....but I found a stash of the kids Great Grandmothers from our round up at her home a few years ago before she passed...so I put them in one of his Moms' fancy dishes and have them on my piano....:) Love Christmas...it is a time to pause, have fun and give thanks...and gifts galore!!

Sarah said...

It's a beautiful tree and I love the stories that go with the ornaments. I didn't know you had a daughter. I mustn't have been following yet when you wrote about Holly. I can't imagine the heartbreak of losing a little one. I'm glad you have special memories of her. I hope you and Mike and family have a great Christmas and a 2014 of health.

Kate said...

Wonderful ornaments with great stories. Drama Teen had a friend over to help decorate our tree. Hearing her explain the significance of some of our ornaments and why some were her favorites is a memory I will always treasure.