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Flashback Friday – O Christmas Tree

This is the
“O My Gosh, I Can’t Believe It’s on Time! Edition
of Flashback Friday, brought to you by Quilldancer.

Flashback Friday is the brain child of Linda from Mocha With Linda. This is the meme that takes us back in time to the days of our youth. Linda says, This meme’s purpose is to have us take a look back and share about a specific time or event in our lives. It will be fun to see how similar – or different – our experiences have been!

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?

We always had a live tree.  My dad was a logger and two of my Uncles owned tree farms.  They would have died if Gram put a fake tree up in our living room and buying a tree would have been an even worse crime!

Usually my dad or one of my uncles would bring the tree in and put it in the stand, then they would leave and Gram and I would decorate.  I never understood why, when I was a kid, Gram always made me go to my room until the lights were on the tree.  As an adult I know … it was the cuss words.  I am sure of it.

Gram had wonderful stuff to put on the tree!  She had old porcelain bells shaped like Santa, Angels, Christmas Trees, Bells (duh), Carolers, and Snowmen.  We always hung candy canes on the tree — one for each day until Christmas, and I got to eat one every night (well, usually I took it off the tree at night and didn’t eat it until the next day).  When there was only one candy cane left, I knew the next day was Christmas!  She started that when I was 6 to keep me from asking every night, “How long?”  She would say, “Go count the candy canes!”

If my dad did stay around when we decorated the tree, it had to have tinsel.  Gram generally skipped the tinsel because (as you doubtless know) it has a way of leaving the tree and migrating all over the house.  And my dad insisted that the tinsel be put on the tree one strand at a time. I was never that patient and would lose interest pretty fast.

For years we had an angel on top pf the tree.  It was just a little white plastic cone with a doll head and feather wings.  I remember thinking it ugly and being rather pleased when it finally burnt out.  We replaced it with a lovely multi-colored star.

The only other decoration that went up was Gram’s creche.  That was special.  It had a wooden stable with a real straw roof, and Gram always put real straw on the floor.  A porcelain angel hung from the peak of the stable roof.  There were porcelain figurines for Mary, Joseph, the wisemen, their camels, and there were sheep and donkeys.  Little baby Jesus was naked in the manager laying on a white cloth over the straw.  Of course he and it was porcelain, too.

The creche pictured here is much like Gram’s, but there are a few minor differences. I remember the first time Gram let me put the creche up.  She told me it was over 50 years old, and I had to be extremely careful with it.  Even then, I wasn’t allowed to move the stable because she was afraid it would fall apart.  Every year more of the roof flaked away.  I was very careful handling that creche.  I loved it.  I have no idea where it ended up after Gram died. It doesn’t matter though, it is still beautiful and everlasting in my heart.


  1. What a nice memory of Christmases past. Lucky your family was able to acquire a fresh tree from the tree farm, rather than buy one from the store. If you had a child, you probably would have him or her count the days to Christmas by taking a candy cane from the tree each night. That’s what tradition is all about!

  2. I enjoyed your memories…especially about having to leave the room while the lights were being put on! LOL Yes, those icicles had a way of hitching a ride all over the house, didn’t they–but they sure were pretty! I loved the candy cane tradition, I wish I’d have thought of that one!

    PS It’s still not too late to put up that tree!!!

    1. Kathy — it is way too late to put up the tree. I can’t even think about doing it without revisiting all the Christmas light fights from my marriage. It just isn’t worth it.

  3. The candy canes were a good way for a child to keep track!

    I like the thought that, even though we don’t know where a lot of things from our childhood are, we can enjoy the memories of them.

    1. Barbara — such consolations come naturally to those who have lost much. On the plus side, as much as I like my possessions, I am content with much less and I know my true treasure lies in my Lord and Savior and the people I love.

  4. Love your memories! Honestly, I believe a real Christmas tree is the best, although it’s been a while since we’ve had one. And I forgot that we always used candy canes too!


  5. .
    Hi Quilly. Isn’t it something that you remember your grandmother as “it was the cuss words. I am sure of it.” 🙂 That is one of the things I remember about my grandfather, his cussing and his chewing tobacco.

    Your blog here makes me feel good about your nice memories. We both have some others that are not nice AT ALL! And you reminded me that Mom always had a nativity scene, as we always do, some place on prominent display.

    1. Jim, I think I owe my grandmother an apology. I do not remember her from her cuss words. I believe I said I didn’t know why she sent me from the room — and the implication was that now, as an adult, I wonder if it was the cuss words because putting lights on the tree makes ME cuss.

  6. Enjoyed your memories. We always had candy canes too, but never used them to count the days. That is such a good idea. And what is it with tinsel and Dads. We always had tinsel, one strand at a time. It is funny now, I still use tinsel and am very picky about it, but not to the extreme of one strand at a time. thanks for sharing
    until next time… nel

    1. Nel — I haven’t used tinsel since the year more of it stuck to the dog and the cat then the tree. All the static electricity was insane and the stuff was all over the house!

  7. What nice memory. Growing up my parents always had a fake tree and it was my mom and I who decorated it. Now I get a real tree every year. The ornaments I had on the tree were special as I use to get an ornament every year for Christmas. It’s nice to look back at those and hang them up. A couple were from my grandma. I love the picture of the nativity scene. I will have to remember the candy cane trick of having Dakota take one off the tree he asks every day how many days till Christmas. LOL

    1. Stacie — and it might help reinforce his counting skills, too! Gram always had me take it off the tree at the exact same time everyday, I think to make certain I only got one each day.

  8. I enjoyed reading how you decorated for Christmas as a child … I did have to laugh out loud at your realization (as an adult) why your Gram had you go to your room.

    Thanks for visiting my blog … it led me here, and I’m glad for that.


  9. I like how you put candy canes on the tree to count down the days til Christmas. I just may have to start this tradition with my kids. My youngest still makes a christmas paper chain to count down the days. I enjoyed reading about your Christmas decorating memories.

  10. My dad always took us kids to buy a tree at a lot in town. Being the PacNW, it was usually rainy and cold.
    I now have an artificial tree because I got it on clearance (KMart going out of business) and it cost less than a real one for one year. We’re going on year 8, but maybe next year we’ll get a real tree again.
    Oh, the hassle of the lights! I’m the one who puts them on our tree, because I learned from a friend who used to decorate for the stores. I use 600 lights on a 6′ tree. I like white, but my kids like colored. Guess who wins?
    If I had my way, our house would be the brightest on the block. I don’t get my way outside.

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