The Best Christmas Tradition (bickering included)

Grandma and Grandpa had a Christmas tradition about putting the tree up… Arguing, but having fun doing it. The day was always planned in advanced we never just woke up one day in the winter and decide to put the tree up. Grandma took out the calendar likely in late October and figured out what day it would be.

I always remember the night before I would get all excited for the next day. I too had been planning for weeks. Part of the reason why we had to pick what day we were putting the tree up was so important was because we made homemade ornaments for everyone in the family so we had to get our supplies which usually involved styrofoam, pins, and sequins.

We would wake up, have breakfast and get into our work clothes. First order of business rescue our horrendous fake tree from the attic. Aunt N had an imaginary allergy to pine trees so we lived with the most unreal looking tree ever (it might as well been white) because no one was buying it was real. Grandpa would go to the attic and hand the scratchy branches down to me and your Aunt N and we would bring to the living room and group it by color (handles had colors on it so you knew what layer it was).

Then we took the coutles boxes of decorations down including ornaments, lights, and the same garbage bag of white and silver garland to put on the tree. This process took a significant amount of time and was not without fights between your Aunt and I and Grandma and Grandpa.

Assembly of the tree would commence immediately with the first layer of the tree going on smoothly. It was the middle layers that were difficult we would put some branches on and then remember that it actually was the other color and the we would wrestle the branches out of the stand. At this time one of us would go with Grandma and make something…. Cookies, lunch, some sort of food.

I then I start to test the lights. I swear that was my job earlier than it probably should have been because no one else wanted to do it. I would find the missing or broken light and make the strand work again. You need to understand that if ANY light did not work the entire strand did not work so it was ALOT of trial and error. I am definately the most patient person in our family so it was clear it should be my job. I still remember the boxes they came in.

We would then present our homemade ornaments (I will point out some good ones I made for Aunt N on her tree, she still has them). I was always REALLY excited to give the ornaments. One year I got creative and made one that was not from a kit (really extra parts from previous years). I used gold sequins and a few blue and red ones. Aunt N opened it up and started to laugh, I was devastated, I had made a baby Jesus. She still has it and laughs at it every year… she even has your cousins laughing at it. I asked her for it back last year but she would not give it to me. I am still proud of that ornament!

The next fight was who got to put the angel on the top of the tree and who got to put Jesus in the manager set. The cooler job was to put the angel on the top of the tree. Every year we would fight over who did it last year. Sometimes I would write who did it that year in my box that held my ornaments. It was only because we would get to stand on a ladder.

The final battle of the day invoved the giant holly tree in front of our house and the lights. As I got older the tree was to high to get the lights on and there were ladders and rakes invloved in hanging the lights (Grandpa would put the lights in the rake spokes and turn it upside down to get the lights higher on the tree).

Honestly no matter how much we all fought that day it was still one of the best days of the year and we always looked forward to it. I love the day we put up the tree!

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4 Responses to The Best Christmas Tradition (bickering included)

  1. auntbethany says:

    I always looked forward to that night…the night of the annual Christmas tree retrieval. My family would go out for dinner, share a few laughs…then the insanity would begin. I’d be allowed to pick out a real tree, but the real challenge was strapping it to the family car, an act my dad was obsessed over. He had to tether it JUST right, and was fanatical about who would hold the ropes which held it in place.

    Once the tree was home and safe (we never lost one!), Mom and I would drink egg nog and decorate it while watching “While You Were Sleeping,” one of our favorite Christmas movies.

    Thank you for bringing up some great memories!

    • green4u says:

      My husband and I now have a similar tradition like you we watch Elf. We quote the movie all year but to a ridiculous level at Christmas time. We were very happy that we got to watch it with our nieces (who had never seen it) this weekend when we put up our tree!

      Have a great Christmas!

  2. lifesmosaics says:

    What wonderful thing a memory is! The little things we did as kids become our biggest memories, as time goes by. And if we care enough to share them with our own kids and make them a part of these family traditions, then our family legacy will live on.

    I have the most amasing, warmest memories of my childhood Christmas. I am forever grateful to my Mom for always making that time of the year the most special one. Now that I have two kids of my own, I hope I can create for them the traditions they will cherish forever…

  3. Ann says:

    Enjoyed reading the memories you had surrounding a Christmas tradition you had in your family. We had a similar tree to what you described. I forgot how we assembled it until you mentioned the color coding. Ours had letters (level A, B, C, etc.). I like how you added homemade ornaments to the tree each year. That’s such a great idea!

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