Friday, December 03, 2010

Flashback Friday: Decorating for Christmas

This week Lid asks, "When you were growing up, when did your family put up and decorate the Christmas tree? Was it real or artificial? Who usually decorated it? Were there special decorations? What was on the top? White lights or colored, blinking or steady? How much did your family decorate for the holiday other than the tree (wreaths, dishes, snowglobes, miniature villages, etc.)? Did y'all do outdoor lights? White or colored, blinking or not? Are there special memories associated with decorating for Christmas?"

Here I am, Christmas, 1964, at my little piano which my grandmother gave me. You can see the silver tree in the background; we had that tree for most of my growing up years. My favorite part of Christmas decorating was the wheel of color that turned and shone onto the reflective tree. I would lie on the floor, listen to the whir of the wheel and watch the colors fall over the tree, onto the ceiling and down the wall, over and over. It was magical. Of course, back in those days, we didn't have sensory overload like we do now. I can't imagine anyone but maybe a cat doing that today. Even toddlers are bored by holograms and time travel.

Here I am with my youngest of three brothers, Donnie. He is 56 now. I love him dearly. I don't have many memories of actually decorating except feeling like I couldn't really do it to please my mom. She wasn't as into "hominess" as "prettiness." I get that now. She had to look at it for a month.

My daughter gave me grief this year because I didn't use any of my kids' homemade ornaments, and everything is color-coordinated. Actually, I couldn't FIND their ornaments even if I had desperately wanted to use only those.
And here I am at 13, with our sophisticated fake green tree. I thought it was the bomb-diggity. I loved that orchid sweater, too, my favorite color. I can tell by the hair that I was in 7th grade here, and madly in love with a red-headed 8th grade boy at my school. He lives in Philadelphia now.

Check out that gold crushed-velvet chair. Note the lack of lights. I'm not sure we had them on when I was young. I do remember some large ones outside around our picture window. That was about the extent of our decorating; Mom did not go overboard in baking or decorating for holidays. But I loved my Christmases and have very fond memories of footed pajamas, my bothers and their wives coming "home," and Elvis's Blue Christmas on our large console stereo, not my choice of music, but that's what I remember. I wonder how my kids will answer this question someday? ("She wasn't 'into' our ornaments ....")


sara said...

one of my friends had a silver tree and I always thought that was so cool!! I had forgotten about the color wheel that went with it!!

Mocha with Linda said...

I love the pics. I had intended to mention that my aunt and uncle had one of those aluminum trees with the color wheel. I was fascinated by it.

Anonymous said...

We never had one of those wheels of color, but I do remember them being at other people's houses.

I can't remember much specifically about my childhood decorations, but they were nowhere near as elaborate as today's.

Maribeth said...

Oh I remember the trees with the color wheel. I thought they were cool, but my folks were purists and always had a real tree. Much to my great pain, as I am allergic to pine!

Liz said...

I loved our aluminum tree with the color wheel. Of course, if it was a brand new concept in 2010, I would probably shun the whole idea utterly. But as now it's a part of my past, it's just nostalgic for me.

Cindy Swanson said...

I love that 1964 pic, Linda! It's a classic.

I SO relate about lying there watching the colors change on the color wheel. I was actually a teen-ager when I did that--you're right, who takes time to do things like that anymore? Although I do like to sit with a cup of hot tea and just enjoy the lights on the Christmas tree sometimes.

I enjoyed your memories as always!

Helen said...

Christmas was pure fantasy for me as a girl ... every Christmas morning as I tip-toed from bedroom to living room ... the fragrance of a fresh tree met me ... then the lights ... then gifts under the tree. YES! Santa brought our tree each and every year. We didn't even have a chimney!

Susanne said...

We always had funny little odd shaped real trees. I remember the multi-colored lights on them and having to place these silver metal flower shaped things underneath the lights before they were screwed in so that the light would be reflected. I also remember homemade candy wrapped in silver paper that was used as decorations. We were never allowed to eat them because they were years old. That didn't stop us from asking for them every single year though. LOL.

I don't think my tree will every reach the color co-ordinated point, not that I don't try. Oh well, as long as it sparkles and makes me smile.

Quilly said...

I love that first photo of you. It looks like something from a Christmas Card -- hazy and "sweet memory" perfect.

Anonymous said...

Big consoled stereo...was that one of the stereos that came in its own built-in cabinet?

My mom had one of those. I have memories of listening to Christmas music in French! She (and my sister and me) were born in Canada, and she learned how to speak English when she came to the U.S.

I still remember that music booming from that stereo...even until I got married in 1989.

Nel said...

Enjoyed your memories! That first picture is adorable!
until next time... nel

Recovering Church Lady said...

Loving the "old" pics Lid. Seeing the silver tree immediately told me your mom was not the earthy crafty kind! But prettiness is important too!

Golden chair, we had one like that too I think and of course olive green furniture too. I need to scan some of my childhood holiday pics.

Kids ornaments? that's a whole new blog post isn't it?

Susan said...

We never had the silver tree, always the green one. I love the retro photos. I can never get enough of the "old" memory pics of christmas.