De-Ornamenting the Trees 2022

I had originally posted this a few years ago, but decided to update it for this year,

I think I just invented a new word in 2018. Maybe. But it sure says what I’m feeling right now!

De-ornamenting. Better known as taking down the Christmas trees and other holiday decorations. Returning to whatever state of normalcy we live in the rest of the year.

We actually have 8 Christmas trees every year. Well, if you want to be technical there’s actually now 12, but the skinny white flamingo tree in the Florida room stays up all year with its clear mini lights and huge assortment of the various flamingo decorations we’ve collected over the years. And there are now three 2 foot little trees which are in the kitchen, our granddaughters’ guest bedroom, and my craft studio, but they only take a few minutes to take down. There’s also a lighted palm tree in the far corner of our family room, with its clear lights and eclectic collection of beach and a few extra flamingo ornaments that wouldn’t fit on the other tree, but we don’t count that one. (If you missed my blog series “Each Tree Has a Story” check it out to see all these trees in their full grlory!)

And yes, putting up all those trees is a lot of work, along with hanging the stockings, putting out the silk poinsettias, and decorating the foyer ledge in a holiday theme. It takes several days. But it was worth it. And it’s worth it every year.

Because there’s just something special about the beauty of Christmas decorations. The sparkling lights, the candles, the shiny ornaments on the trees, and the magnificent sight of so many homes lit up with colorful and imaginative lighted displays in front yards. It just gives each home a touch of brand new elegance, and when the only light in your living room or family room comes from that Christmas tree, it just feels different. Almost magical, with an air of expectancy. The perfect room for enjoying time with family and friends.

And then in all too short a time, it’s all over. It’s time to take everything down, pack it carefully away, and wait another year to bring it back and create those feelings all over again. Even thought taking it down is a bit quicker, it’s still an awful lot of work.

Many people say they’re done with it all the day after Christmas Day, and can’t wait to pull everything down and put things back the way they were. Before the decorating…before the transformation began…before the magical beauty entered their home and took over, just for an all too brief time. Maybe they just don’t feel that special sense of magic that some of us do.

I’m just the opposite. I dread taking down all the decorations. Not because of all the work involved, because my husband and I do it together as a team. But because I just don’t like giving up the sparkle…the glow…and the special feelings that all the decorations bring, not only to our home, but to our lives. There’s a special feeling in our home when all those trees are decorated and lighted that just appears for that one all-too-short time. I really can’t describe the feeling. But I know there are more of you out there that feel the same way.

A few of our friends have actually left their trees up and just changed the theme. One friend re-did hers as a winter tree with icicles, silver ornaments, and snowmen. Another friend re-did hers in a Mardi Gras theme. Well, I do keep our flamingo tree up year round, so i guess I’m right there with them.

Spending the weekend removing and carefully packing up ornaments was not fun. And we’re still not quite done. It wasn’t just all the tedious work involved in doing it. It was thinking about all the memories so many of those ornaments evoked. My grandmother’s glass birds that have survived over 100 Christmases still intact. The ornaments that graced my mother’s tree when she still put one up. The special ornaments memorializing my husband’s and my first Christmas together…our daughter’s first Christmas. And now our two granddaughters’ first Christmas ornaments, along with framed picture ornaments of our daughter’s wedding the grandchildren growing up, and their trips to see Santa Claus.

Now there are empty spots in our rooms where the trees were. Not literally, because the furniture we moved to make room for our Christmas trees is slowly going back into place. But it still takes while to have it feel “right” again. But it will. In a few weeks or so. And we’ll forget about all the beauty and “specialness” of those Christmas decorations until about ten months later until it’s time to start thinking about it again.

But then the cycle starts again as the next Christmas season approaches and we once again get to experience that special excitement, that magical feeling as the trees once again are dressed in their familiar splendor with, of course, a few new ornaments that we traditionally add every year.

Am I looking ahead already? Of course! Because I’m already looking forward to that special magic that starts to happen when we start putting it all back together again. And we don’t wait til after Thanksgiving any more to start decorating.

Or maybe we could even do Christmas in July? Maybe a beach themed masterpiece. Decorated shells and starfish…clear ornaments with sea glass and sand inside of them…some kind of beachy garland…maybe on a blue Christmas tree? What do you think? Who wants to help join in the fun?

Each Tree Has a Story, Part 5

Today’s homes don’t usually have a formal dining room, opting for a big eat-in kitchen or a gathering room, an all-purpose room where family and friends can eat together in a casual setting.

The house I grew up in had a formal dining room, and I had that as well in several of my homes. The house we live in now is no exception, and because we’d added a few feet on to the living room to accommodate my piano, the dining room beside it is a bit oversized as well. But since I have my mom’s large dining set and the bar cabinet my grandfather made, it all fits together perfectly.

Except at Christmas time, when it just seemed a little dark, compared to the living room with its big fancy tree.

And like the area by the fish tank, there’s a corner in the dining room that has a large silk tree in it that could easily be moved for the holidays…

When I told my husband my brilliant idea for yet another tree, he reminded me we hardly ever use the dining room. 

Except at Thanksgiving and Christmas I reminded him, and people could see that tree as well when they walk in the house….it would really look great.

And another 5 foot tree just sort of appeared a few days later, right in that corner. 

I hadn’t really thought about a theme, but since Christmas colors are red and green, I decided to use those colors and just go from there.

Of course I started looking through the ornaments I had on our family room tree, to see what I could move around (and make room for more ornaments on that one, of course). I found a number of red ornaments, and birds, and a few similar creatures, and all of a sudden the ideas started flowing.

It started off fairly simple, but in a few short years, it quickly filled up (imagine that) with a collection of red and white birds, including my grandmother’s little antique glass birds perched carefully on the branches, fancy pine cones, and some adorable little woodland creatures. And since our two Yorkies have a “thing” for squirrels, there are several of those on the tree as well. The dogs aren’t allowed in there unsupervised, of course, or those animals would probably not survive.

The finishing touch was adding a number of our acrylic dated Hallmark ornaments to it, making the tree really sparkle. 

This year I added a couple of strands of garland made with red Buffalo plaid wooden beads, and that really set it off even more.

Lots of our friends have said this is their favorite tree. But I love them all!

And there’s still a few more to come. As you’ll see in “Each Tree Has a Story, Part 6” to be published December 15.

Each Tree Has a Story, Part 3

Since I was sure we needed another tree, I had to figure out a reason for doing it that my husband would agree with. While he’s usually pretty good at seeing things my way, well, I wasn’t sure about something like this. I also didn’t know what it would lead to.

When I first mentioned it to him he looked at me like I’d lost my mind. But after a little bit of giving all the good reasons for doing it, like the living room is the first room guests see when they come in, it would look pretty through the windows at night, and I just really thought we NEEDED it, he sort of agreed. 

Then he asked how I’d decorate it. Good question.

But one of my contractors had just given me a Christmas ornament a few days before which was a cat dressed as an angel. Why? Because I’d shared with him earlier that year how we’d almost lost our white Fluffy cat to a bladder blockage, and how we knew he had a guardian angel that saved him, with the help of our excellent vet of course. My contractor told me he saw the ornament and just thought I needed to have it!

So I told my husband it needed to be an angel tree and that kitty angel ornament would always be on there to remind us that miracles still happen. 

How could he refuse that? So a new 7 foot tree appeared in the living room within a few days! Coincidentally that same year, our local craft store had a ton of Christmas picks that were different styles of angels, and they were conveniently on sale. So obviously I bought several dozen of them and made them into ornaments, and they’ve been on that tree ever since.

Of course, over the years new ornaments have appeared, and now although the tree still features the angels and my kitty angel ornament, it also has jeweled butterflies, glass roses (my mom’s favorite flower), and loads of other delicate ornaments in shades of pink and rose. (Remember, you have to get a couple new ornaments every year for each tree. Just to keep it interesting.)

You can see we even have lights with acrylic roses added to them that my mother gave us many years ago.

As you can see from the pictures, it’s a beautiful tree, and everyone loves the story of why we started it.

Obviously though, that wasn’t the end of the trees….

So be sure to read about the next one in “Each Tree Has a Story, Part 4” to be published on December 10.

Each Tree Has a Story, Part 2

Yes, I do love Christmas trees. For me, the Christmas season starts as soon as the first tree is decorated. It just brings such a festive, happy feeling to the house. And yes, I did say the “first” tree. As you’ve probably figured out by now, we do have more than one.

I’ve always had a Christmas tree every year, even after I had places of my own. I started collecting ornaments my last year in college, and actually still have a few from those early years. They were inexpensive ones, of course, but I bought them because I liked them, and even almost fifty years ago, my tree had a theme to it. I liked the strands of plastic popcorn and candy for the garland, as well as the cupcakes and cookie shaped ornaments and a set of pink popcorn shaped ornaments that I still have, although they’re now on another tree. (Some of my ornaments do move around.)  

But I’ve come a long way from that first tree that I created for myself.

When my husband and I were first together, he helped me decorate my tree. We collected new ornaments together, and we still have a very special Hallmark ornament “First Christmas Together”.  It quickly became a tradition every year to collect at least one special ornament that was dated, so we could watch the progression of our life together. Our family Christmas tree was created.

Of course, it wasn’t just one ornament a year…more like four or five. Four or five each time I’d go out Christmas shopping, that is. After all, they were there in the stores, staring at me from those display trees, and well, I just couldn’t resist some of them. They were so cute. And I knew they’d look perfect on our tree.

There’s always room for one more ornament, isn’t there? And we had a big tree…

And there really wasn’t a theme then. Like most of you, I imagine, I just started collecting ornaments I liked, and because a Christmas tree can really be anything you want it to be, that tree became a myriad of colors, shapes, and sizes. Candies, animals, Santa Clauses and snowmen, flamingos, and oh yes, let’s not forget all the Hallmark Barbie ornaments. I don’t think I missed a year of not getting at least one, and now if I find one on eBay I don’t have, well, let’s just say I make sure it joins my collection. But more on that later.

It turned out that we didn’t have a big enough tree after all, because after our daughter was born, we had to have the Hallmark series ornaments for Baby’s First Christmas, and then the rest of them which went through year five. And yes, they’re still on there. Of course we started collecting a lot of ornaments with children’s themes then, many of which I’ve actually given to our daughter now for her tree.

Still, that one tree kept getting fuller and fuller every year, but I still had to have just one or two (or five or six) more ornaments each year. It was tradition. After all, it was our family Christmas tree. And it was filled with a wide array of different ornaments we’d collected over our years together, so many that I was actually running out of branches to put them on.

I soon realized that one 7 1/2 foot tree in the corner of our family room just wasn’t going to be enough any more. And looking around the house, I realized the rooms looked kind of plain compared to the family room, even with all the silk poinsettias and holly and other decorations sitting around.

So what do you do?

That answer should be obvious. I’ll tell you all about that in a few more days. Watch for “Each Tree Has a Story, Part 3” to be published on December 8.