December 1st A Ceiling Tickler (1950-1990)
That's what our tree had to be!! Nothing shorter would do.
Some years we had to tie the top of the tree to the curtain rods to balance it. We used clear fishing line.
These trees were so majestic as to tickle the 12-ft. ceilings in our 1875 house. The living room was painted a warm squash yellow, the curtains were gold. We usually had a fire in the living room fireplace and Christmas songs on the stereo. As we got older, the songs were replaced by stacks of vinyl with the Messiah, performed by the organist, choir, and musicians, from the cathedral in Salt Lake City or maybe from England.
Mom started taking us to local performances of the Messiah by the city symphony and the Augustana College Handel Oratorio Choir, so we learned many of the words and could sing along. Now the next generation goes faithfully...Jean would be proud!!
The strings of lights go first. My 2 brothers would have the lights strung out between the living room and dining room on the floor, tightening each bulb and finding a replacement, as quick as possible so as not to burn the carpet. We had to clip each light. It was tedious so we got good at making them look like they were clipped.
Dad was a traditionalist and learned to trim a tree from his Prussian mom and English dad. You start at the top with the small ornaments and by the time you get to the bottom limbs, you should have the biggest ornaments hanging from the bowers. This gives the tree the illusion that it's tall. Often the problem was that the tip of the tree had to go. Not enough room from the tree to the ceiling to put on the tree topper...a long silver etched ornament made as a tree-topper.
Dad loved silver garland because he was the major architect with the silver tinsel - preferring the heavier stuff to the light, easily-tangled cheap tinsel. It had to be hung with no tangles, no wads, like the feathers of an Irish Setter. The 4 of us kids would usually give up and start decorating each other's hair, too impatient to do it right. Dad would do the whole tree with beautiful silver...absolutely gleaming. THEN, he would get the kitchen shears and "trim the bangs" as he would say. Each branch's silver was carefully trimmed to hang evenly.
When the job was all done, we turned the lights down, poured glasses of egg nog with optional nutmeg, sat down and enjoyed our work. When we were younger, dad would sometimes have Tom & Jerry mix from the local bar.
One of my last family trees must have been in the late 1970s. This tree must have been picked last because it was a Charlie Brown ceiling tickler that looked just awesome with all it's decorations. I was moved to write a poem:
Shimmering glimmering long green arms in silver gossamer angel's sleeves
A spindly evergreen transformed from the proverbial ugly duckling
Ruling over all those who are overwhelmed by its spirit,
And adorned with its princely jewels reigns forever
As the true spirit of Christmas.