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Friday, December 04, 2009

perfectly imperfect Christmas

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I so loved reading the stories of how you named your blogs. Thank you for telling them, I learned some fun and important things about you. Also, some of you found each other across the planet through this worm hole. I love our community. Every connection shows that we are One human organ.

It snowed tonight, and after a warm November, now we move into a season of winter, which carries Christmas in a big festive mixed bag. In the bag are hugs, candlelight and warm fires. Squeezed in among those are intolerable front yard inflatable Santas and loop after loop of Christmas·carol·muzak. And because the bag is lined with a big fat assumption of festivity, it is also loaded with sorrow and pain - remembered or current. We ache in contrast to the glitter, and that twists the knife. Maybe a white feather boa snakily imitating snow on top of the piano brings a smile and eases the ache. But there is no automatic improvement to our lives just because we are surrounded by Christmas gloss and powder. It reminds me of the Nativity, a story of hope for deliverance born inside political unrest, fear, temporary homelessness and birthing pains.

Nothing as heavy as all that here today, but in a bit of sad irony we are able to put up a real, fresh Christmas tree this year.

For me it is a sweet moment in commerce when Home Depot and the farmer down the road set up a variety of evergreen trees on their corners for us Christmas lovers to paw over, tip up, spin, examine and eliminate until we find the One that sings carols in our ears. "Those sticking-up boughs will ease down when they get in our warm family room" we say. Fresh trees are not boxed or plasticked; they are irregular, pokey, sappy and messy. But we pile into our cars and trucks in the coldest weather and flock to those tree lots to pick the One - and welcome it with love into our home. Oh that reminds me of a couple we knew in Pasadena who alternated between flocked and unflocked trees each year. She liked flocked, he liked unflocked. Or was it the other way around? Flocked means the boughs are sprayed with fake snow. And I also remember how strange it was to live in a warm climate at Christmas, where poinsettias were outdoor landscaping plants.

IMHO the best tree for decorating with ornaments is a Frasier Fir. The needles are short and firm, letting ornaments actually hang between branches, and not just lie on top of the needles, yuck. (oh dear, I am a tree snob.) But the main reason they are perfect is that the branches are random and skew-jee. You can even nestle ornaments deep inside, on a bough right next to the trunk, so there are surprises. If a Christmas tree looks like a dense triangle with no dark recesses of mystery between boughs, it depresses me.













Not that I don't have a supreme holiday memory of spending hours folding each page of a Reader's Digest so that the upper corner folded down into a long ruler-straight angle, then fanned out in rotundity. Spray with canned snow (in this photo I found* it's sprayed gold, nice) - et voila! a 3-D triangular flocked Christmas tree. She would have liked it. Or was it he? I should mention that I nearly missed Christmas at age 7 when I leapt up to retrieve the canned snow and ran headlong into the French door standing open; stars and stripes later I gaped at my forehead's goose egg from a handheld mirror in my parents' bed. Could thith be from whenth my dithtathte for triangular Chrithmath treeth cometh?**

So yes, except for magazeeny trees, there must be perfectly imperfect gaps and caves to go spelunking in, with an overall symmetry when you blur your eyes.

And there has to be the smell of evergreen. Slightly astringent, and warmly cool. A pleasant tingle in the eyes and nose. Firs have it.

Always, with our children, we magnified the event of picking out the tree together. It was important for them to believe they were part of the decision, even though now looking back I see that Don and I, ok . . . I . . . had last say.

But Christmas before last when Peter and Don carried in the bare Frasier from the truck, within minutes of my stringing white lights, Peter was catapulted way beyond a cool tingle into a sneezing fit, and within an hour we realized his allergies had developed a hatred for our tree! The guilty tree was quarantined out on the deck, where it ended up looking pretty great with white lights sparkling in snow in the coming weeks.

So last year for dear Peter's sake we got an artificial tree with as many random gappy branches as we could find (I think it's a Martha Stewart one) and decorated it for the family room. When you turned out all the lights except the tree, you couldn't tell it was artificial. Except for the lack of fragrance, and well also being too symmetrical.



This year, and here's the sad irony, neither Lesley & Brian nor Peter will be home for Christmas, so we can get a fresh tree again. Even Don's parents are traveling to Colorado, so we won't see them either. I am not a woman addicted to holidays or believe that families must be present on them. We love each other every day, absent or together, birthday or no birthday, anniversary or not, Valentine's Day or the other 364. But when my nostrils fill with evergreen, and a sharp needle pokes into my fingernail's cuticle when I hang Peter and Lesley's paper stars they made one Christmas twenty years ago when we lived far away in İstanbul, I will feel the sting - while I inhale, ahhhh.

*I found the image of the Reader's Digest tree, along with instructions, here.
** Translation for non-native English speakers. These lispy wordplays can be a royal pain to you: Could this be from whence my distaste for triangular Christmas trees cometh?



73 comments:

Peter said...

The tradition in Sweden (at least those days) was to decorate the Christmas tree just the day before Christmas. It meant also that during the Christmas days, you had the wonderful smell of a (relatively) fresh tree. For me, Christmas was linked to this smell. The trees I find here in Paris don’t have the same smell! (But I find a number of other advantages here!)

Thanks for this nice story about the trees, which also tells us a lot about you and your family! Nice!!

Ruth said...

Peter, Inge tells me that in Germany they get the tree on Christmas Eve. But you actually keep it in the house for a while. That sounds nice and actually that's what we are doing at the moment. The tree is standing next to me, in its natural glory. We will decorate this weekend. I like a lot of European ways of doing things, but on this I go American because I so enjoy the ornaments we've picked out for 32 years, most of them for Lesley & Peter. In fact I tried to give Lesley's to her for her new household, to share with future children. But she couldn't take them, she said they belong here with us. That's fine with me.

Susan said...

Ahhhhh, Ruthie....Christmas tree aromas evoke such heady emotions. I love the Frasier firs, and my second favorite is the Noble fir. Those qualities which you mentioned make the perfect tree.

Alas, I will be decorating the fake MS tree again this year. Without the muscle man here to help me get it in the house and in the tree stand, I have to rely on the one Made in China, which is ironically where the muscle man happens to be, as you know.

However, it will be so well-covered with all the collected ornaments that it won't be too obvious. You really made me want to run out and buy the real thing though.

Christmas will be different for you this year. Be brave.

Ruth said...

Susie, well I never thought of that with David being gone - in China. Another sad irony. Artificial trees are very good now, compared to the ones at first. Oh dear we had one of those aluminum foil trees. :| My dad got it, I'm not sure what that was all about. It had the light wheel with four colors that rotated and shone on the tree blue, green, gold and red. You know it was actually kind of cool with all the other lights off. Now I bet it would be popular on eBay.

Don said...

Maybe we should come up with a new Christmas menu?

Does the Readers' Digest even exist anymore?

Cusp said...

Personally I don't mind too much about a real or artificial tree. The needles dropping all over the carpet drive me nuts anyway BUT the ornaments are really important.

The most nostalgic and important part for me is going up into the loft and bringing down the boxes. Then I can spend a happy hour unwrapping old baubles and tree decorations and reliving past Christmases. I have decorations from the 1940s and 50s: some that were around before I was. There are decorations I bought when I was 10 and newer 'lovelies' made by our children. The most precious are the hand-made uniques. Each bauble, each little paper star brings a memory of someone who is still here or passed over.

We'll be up in the loft tomorrow morning and 'decking the halls' in the afternoon.

bad penny said...

ooh the aroma... I love choosing our tree - we go as a family. I giggle watching my husband wrestle it in & try to fit it into the stand and I love seeing the decorations every year peeping out of the tissue paper and the kids load one side forgetting the back

Susan said...

Forgot to tell you that I love the new header! Cool and frosty!

Ruth said...

Don, I'm thinking something nutty, or a Christmas soup?

Yes, I see Reader's Digest in the checkout line at Meijer. The format is a little bigger I think.

Ruth said...

Oh but Cusp, you get to smell the revitalized aroma again when you vacuum all those needles after the tree is down.

Reading what you wrote about pulling out the ornaments it hit me again how unusual this is. To have historic decorative artifacts that get carefully stored away and brought out for display every year. I can't think of anything else like that in the average household. It's like we have our own folk museum and this is the Christmas exhibition.

We'll be decking ours tomorrow too.

Ruth said...

Hi, Penny, your post of the picture of your daughter in the snow is so gorgeous.

Oh, you remind me of the year we four had just started decking the tree. Don and Lesley had to run to town for something quick, and Peter and I were left adding ornaments to the tree. Suddenly, being off balance without ornaments on the back, the tree tipped over! We were left there standing, holding the tree until Lesley & Don returned, which was about 30 minutes. Hahahaha.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Susie, but I won't remember the order of my headers like you did!

:)

bad penny said...

ooh thanks for popping over !
The Linen Shelf symbolises natural fabrics that I want to learn to print on ..linen, calico, muslin. The shelf is dusting my art materials off the shelf - been a long time since I did any real creating !!!

The Hen House simply stands for what it is - I recently got four hens and in this house I like to chat !

Ruth said...

Ohh, Penny, that's a nice place too. Thanks for telling me it's the chat room.

Shari Sunday said...

I like the idea of a Reader's Digest tree. I happen to have an old copy that I almost threw out. A good project for my grandchildren. My imperfect Christmas includes a daughter and two grandchildren who are living here as an emergency measure. My daughter and I are trying to keep order in this small house and provide my poor husband with some quiet time and space. I moved to an artificial tree and shatter proof ornaments some years ago for convenience but I always miss the scent of a fresh tree. I try with fresh wreaths, but they are not the same. Merry Imperfect Christmas to you and Don.

Judy said...

You set the imperfect Christmas mood in my mind (warm, cozy, and at times lonely).... ever so perfectly!

I'll take the time today to wish you a very meaningful Christmas and bright New Years, love & peace from Iowa & Kansas!
Judy!

*jean* said...

oo ruth, you have such a way...lovely description of dressing the tree...i always thought a fresh tree was best but with small child and cats, we eventually ended up with my mother's tree after she had a stroke and i have to say, i love the ease and the assurance that if i forgot to water it or turn off the lights, it will be okay...and no needles in my carpet until july

but we might just get a real tree this year for a change...it seems time...i miss the smell of evergreen.

and yes, reader's digest still exists...we used to make those into angels...my first experience with gold spray paint

♥ Kathy said...

I love real trees too. My favorite tree was one that when we began decorating it, I found a bird nest nestled deep inside of it. Thankfully it was empty. I sprayed it down with hairspray and used it on my tree for a couple of years... until it just wouldn't stay together anymore :)

Nancy said...

This was such a sweet post. I, too, have an artificial tree, not yet up. I love fresh ones, but only being here for a few short weeks in December, then we will travel to Portland to be with family, it just doesn't seem right to have a real one sit here all by itself. We spent last Christmas, just the two of us, because of a snow storm. It was our first without children and I was happy to note - we were okay. You realize as your children grow older that you are not going to have all holidays with them. Like you said, it is only one day, and you love each other the other 364.

BTW - My posts cannot be scheduled either.

Amy said...

How wonderful that you can enjoy a real tree this year -- and how sad that Peter and Lesley won't be around.

Both Mom and Dad have converted to artificial trees. I have insisted on staying with my favorite Frasier Fir each year. I absolutely love the fragrance and just the sight of it fills my heart with the joy of the Christmas spirit. We'll probably pick ours up next weekend. Can't wait! :-)

Babs-beetle said...

Oh how I love a fresh tree. Sadly we can no longer have one. We have resorted to artificial trees the last ten years. We do have a lovely floor standing tree (not evenly triangular) but the cats find it too easy to climb into, and up to, the top! Now we have to resort to a table standing tree that, thankfully, they ignore.

Ruth said...

Shari, imperfections I guess are what make the perfections feel so good.

Will you promise me you will try to find yourself some quiet time? And how about your daughter? And those grandchildren need solitude too.

One of these days when I am a gramma I will need to give myself that advice.

Thank you, and Merry Imperfect Christmas back to you.

Ruth said...

Judy, thank you for the greeting, and for the kind words. I wish you the best split-in-two holidays - right and left brain, how lovely - and maybe I'll get more chances to say it again to you.

Ruth said...

Jean, I know. The list is quite long for an artificial tree, and quite short for a fresh one.

In the bigger picture, of course it really doesn't matter a bit.

One of the very best Christmases in memory was at my family cottage where Don's family gathered for a holiday weekend. We didn't have a tree. So we went into the local grocery store, found a $7 boxed tree on sale and decorated it with what we could find in the cottage that could be spared. There were many ornaments of playing cards from an incomplete deck. There were twisted foil birds. My MIL says that is the best Christmas tree she'd seen, and I agree.

The Bug said...

That was my favorite kind of tree too, back when we used to get a real one. We stopped that the year Dr. M snuck back home one Christmas to make sure the apartment hadn't burned down - we were staying with family for a week & he was paranoid about how dry it was. Fortunately we only lived 2 hours away then - now it's 8!

We made those Reader's Digest trees when I was a kid - I loved it! I used to subscribe, but when it finally reached the point that the "That's Outrageous" column had more stories where I went, "what's outrageous about that?" than ones where I agreed I decided that it was time to part ways...

Kat said...

We always had a real tree when I was a little girl, and Santa brought it! It was so magical to wake Christmas morning and see that wonderful tree that Santa took time out to decorate just for us! (my parents were crazy to do it all on the eve of. I tried it one year, and never again!)
We had to give up real trees in our home because our second son has asthma and even though he won't be here for Christmas, I still put up the artficial tree. For me it is the decorations. I cannot smell anyway. I loved your missive.

PurestGreen said...

My parents used to hand my brother and I a hatchet and send us out into the bush to cut down a tree. Ah, hours spent trudging through the knee-deep snow, arguing over which trees were nicer than others. Good times.

I miss having a real tree. Our fake tree is in a box and I am waiting for my honey to put it up, which he has promised to do on Monday. I take great pleasure in watching him wrestle with it - it's all part of the festive season.

Bella Rum said...

Oh, Ruth, I love this post. What a wonderful writer you are, and how you led me along.

I agree with you about the Frasier Fir. That's what we used to get. They do hold their needles longer.

We have a smaller, skinnier artificial tree now. I choose our dearest ornaments to hang on it. The grandchildren are just old enough to appreciate it this year.

freefalling said...

You can have your fake tree and the scent, too!
Look!
Frasier Fir candles here:
http://housemartin.typepad.com/housemartin/2009/12/piney.html

CottageGirl said...

I love this post about Christmas trees! They are the material standard that absolutely mean Christmas, at least in my book.
My parents, too, had the aluminum tree with the color wheel. At the time we thought it was quite beautiful!
Every year after we got married we almost always went to a Christmas tree farm and chopped one down with the boys. It always seemed an adventure ... out in the cold, sometimes snow, roaming up and down hills looking for "THE ONE"! About 10 years or so ago, we realized what a hassle it was, since the boys no longer joined in our adventure, and we got a humongous artificial tree. Wrong thing for a small cottage and it took forever to put up! For the past couple years, we've had a skinnier artificial tree that has lots of nooks and crannies.
We keep it all in one piece and add ornaments each year! Such fuddy-duddies we are, but it makes the decorating of the rest of the house a little easier to take!

Ruth said...

♥ Kathy - oh that must have been so sweet. I would never have thought of hair spray, that was smart. I probably would have left it plain and had bugs come out of it.

Ruth said...

Nancy, now that Lesley is married, we expect they will travel to Texas sometimes. This year, they are staying in NYC. Peter, poor thing, will be on a beach in Hawaii. I think we should have all gone to meet him there on a black sand beach on Kona and decorate a palm tree.

No post scheduling - I wonder if you can edit posts.

Ruth said...

Amy, what is it with getting older and going artificial? Not only trees - but hips, teeth and hair plugs! :)

I do understand the mess, the hassle, the fire danger and all of it. It's all worth it to me.

I bet you have a beautiful tree.

Ruth said...

Babs, those cats! I am quite happy that Bishop is a barn cat. You should see her climb our spruce tree.

Ruth said...

Get this, Dana. Home Depot, where we got our tree this week, had a display of fire extinguishers next to the tree checkout, and they were on sale $5 off. We bought one with the tree. Brilliant marketing!

Yes, my mom had a subscription to RD. I can't remember the last time I picked one up. I used to read the funnies, what was that page called - oh Don got it: Laughter is the Best Medicine.

Ruth said...

Kat, I've never known a family in the U.S. get the tree on Christmas Eve, that is surprising. What is pretty CRAZY now if you ask me is putting up a tree just after Halloween, which I have seen around here, believe it or not. Then there are the homes that have Halloween lights, and then they just move right into Christmas.

Ruth said...

PurestGreen, how times have changed, at least here in the U.S. Parent don't trust their kids with anything dangerous any more. Gone are the good old days of riding in a car standing up with no seat belt. I suppose you and your brother were wee with that hatchet?

Maybe your honey gets to wishing he had a hatchet for that one in a box, eh?

Ruth said...

Bella, the skinny trees are brilliant. It's like you barely know they're there, except there are all the decorations, so it must be there! My sister Nancy decorates about 100 trees at Christmas. She has always had one in every room of the house, and then all around town in various shops and whatevers. She always called the skinny ones "pencil" trees. She has quite a Christmas tree vocabulary. I'll never forget when Don and I were first married she asked me, "what colors will you be decorating your tree?" I looked at her and said, "Wha?"

Ruth said...

Letty, Oh! (clapping hands) The testimonial says: "I have never been a pine scented candle person but then I smelled these - they are very fresh and true pine smelling. Great for the season but not overwhelming. Ahhh...like a forest."

Ruth said...

CottageGirl, I hear a theme here. Seems like we do the tree hunt for the kids, and the kid in ourselves.

Oh you should see our tree sitting here bare next to me. It's too tall. Well it fits under the ceiling, but it looks pretty big for two people. We should have picked one half its size. But it told me it was the One, so I'm trying not to second guess.

ds said...

It has always been straight to the local nursery for us and CS chooses. Very exciting when young, less so now. But I love opening the box of "odd" ornaments & reliving memories...

Love the new "wintry" header.

Vagabonde said...

I do love the smell of a fresh Christmas tree but for the last 5 years we have visited either our daughter in California or our other daughter in Ohio for Christmas. Maybe next year they can come back home and we shall have a tree. When I was little, in Paris, the tree would not appear in our living room until Christmas Day. I always thought that Santa brought the tree with the presents. Here in Georgia, when we moved to this house in the 70s we bought a small, live, cedar tree as a Christmas tree then planted it in the front yard. It is about 25 or 30 ft tall now and looks pretty whenever snow falls on it, which is very rarely.

Shari Sunday said...

Lispy wordplays. I read right past this the first time I read your post. Made me smile. My poor daughter thought about naming her baby Blythe. Except I just couldn't say it without lisping. This annoyed her greatly. So then I began suggesting other names like Seth or Seymore. I still think it is funny. She ended up naming her daughter Mia.

shicat said...

Oh my, I agree!!! Those lawn ornaments,too funny. I watched as this adorable father of three worked on his outdoor christmas display,lights,blow ups,he was so cute making sure everything was just so,as his cutie little boys looked on.
Yes, holidays can hurt like no other time. That's the reason I am not addicted to them as well. Holiday gloss indeed. I have yet to experience Christmas without the kids but I'm sure that day is coming. I suppose that will be a special day in and of itself with new traditions just you and hubby and maybe a walk in the woods?

Christmas trees, I remember one holiday where we didn't cut down our tree and all of the needles fell to the ground. Now I have always loved a Charlie Brown tree,but this was beyond that. My husband has always worked a lot so I have done most of the household duties, so when the needles fell I cleaned up the mess and went to Hudson's to buy a floor model,(half price)lights and all and installed it in our living room before David got home. He didn't even notice,until I told him about my day:) Peace and blessings to you Ruth.xoxo

Ruth said...

Thanks, DS.

I think I'll bring the ornaments down tomorrow. After all these years I'm still surprised when I pull them out, having forgotten some of them. One of my favorites to unwrap is a fabric angel Mom gave us long ago.

Ruth said...

Dear Vagabonde, I feel that if there was ever and is now any Christmas magick it is being diluted in lots of ways, not the least being the long long standing decorations through all of November and December. I didn't grow up with any talk of Santa in our home - minister father who didn't want Christmas to be about that. But there is something appealing about Father Christmas, and the European traditions of St. Nicholaus and his rounds bringing trees to all the homes on Christmas Eve.

We had a live tree in İstanbul (they called them "New Year's trees"), and when Christmas was over we had the doorman plant it in our building's front garden. He named it "Lesley-han" after our daughter. Don recently found that apartment building on Google Earth and saw that the tree had grown so large it looked like it might be 20-30 feet tall. Now we can't find it on Google Earth again.

Ruth said...

Shari, oh that's funny! The name Blythe is lovely - I think of Blythe Danner. Seymore is cute! But Mia is perfect.

Your comment reminds me of On Golden Pond when Norman says "That's her name. Ethel Thayer. It sounds like I'm lisping."

Ruth said...

Or is it "lithping"?

Ruth said...

Cathy my dear, I totally pictured that too - a walk in the woods! I agree that being just the two of us will give us a chance to start new traditions. We're talking about roasting duck for the first time. Don is thinking of raising some next year.

Yes, when you get trees from a lot, you don't know how old they are, and they can shed in a short time. Such a lot of work you did replacing it with that floor model. How nice that David didn't notice. :)

Thank you for your blessing. I wish you the same. xoxo

Shaista said...

Fraser firs are what we have too - oh the scent of the pine needles on my fingers... I can't wait to get our tree... Christmas may be a lopsided affair for us too, only Dad, Mum and me.. my brothers are both in other countries. But every year we have had an unexpected Christmas guest or two who has no-one to share Christmas with :)

Ruth said...

Shaista sweet, how nice to share with another guest. I am looking forward to decking the tree tomorrow. I'm sitting near it now, smelling.

rauf said...

Christians are a minority here Ruth, but Christmas belongs to everybody.its a joy for me to walk into the well lit and decorated shopping malls even though i don't intend buying anything. You meet Santas sporting sponsor's logos or promoting some product or offering mobile phone schemes. Ruth during Christmas season there is no space to walk on the roads. You have to protect your things as there are too many pick pockets out there.
And the best thing for all is the reverse of western world, its the discount season. Things are cheaper here and not costlier like in the western world. Everybody offers genuine discounts. Best time to buy books. You have to wait for your turn to step in to a Gold Jewelry show room. Discounts last up to first week of January.

i normally spend Christmas with Rajkumar's family. i see plastic trees everywhere.

This year its an opportunity for You and Don to enjoy Christmas peacefully Ruth, with no running around. You can watch people celebrating on the TV.

Its a joy to receive Christmas cards. From now till christmas, please keep posting pictures of the farm so that your readers can use them as Christmas greetings and send them to their friends. i would suggest one exclusive post of your greeting card pictures.
i don't like these internet greetings Ruth.

Shattered said...

I love the smell of a real Christmas tree but we have allergies in our home too. We put our tree up this afternoon; it is so much fun to see the collection of my daughter's handmade ornaments grow each year. I love that you still decorate with your kids' paper stars!

Deslilas said...

It's so sad to be Xtree allergic !
Once again we'll spend Xmas in Sweden among our daughter family around tne X tree. It will be set on the 24th as usual.

Ruth said...

Hello, rauf. It is quite amazing to see how Christmas has spread everywhere. But oh it has changed drastically in commerce here too. It used to be that the big sales happened after Christmas. But a decade or two ago the sales started happening before Christmas, and well, this year there are discounts galore, given our economic situation.

It seems that people are still shopping this year, but they are buying less extravagant gifts. It's kind of fun going out at least once with the hordes to shop. I like it best outside downtown, in East Lansing or Ann Arbor. It's very cold between stores, but I like that part of it: opening the door that rings some bells, feeling the heat in the store, rubbing my hands together and hunching up my shoulders while I begin to look around at merchandise.

I will do as you suggest and post some wintry pictures of the farm. Sadly the little snow we got is already gone. Let's hope we'll get more soon, it really is beautiful. But rauf, I just can't imagine you enjoying it up close and personal. You'd have to be dressed up like an Eskimo to enjoy it.

Did you ever play Santa Claus? You would need a lot of padding, but you have the perfect beard.

Ruth said...

Shattered, I will open the boxes of decorations today. There they will be: the paper stars, the paper Christmas tree in the photo next to those, the paper Santa Claus. They are over 20 years old and they are almost as good as new. They were priceless when they were made. I don't know what they are now. What is more valuable than priceless?

Ruth said...

Daniel, I would like one day to celebrate Christmas in Sweden. I went to a college populated mostly with Swedes, and I loved the Santa Lucia festival. My grandmother was born to Swedish parents in Chicago, which is also where I went to school.

rauf said...

oh yes i played Santa once Ruth, when Chris threw a Christmas party at Anand's house, he was in Chennai, now lives in Pondicherry. No padding, but i had a Santa cap on, had to dig in to a huge bag and give presents to children.

Ginnie said...

Amy's right...I went to artificial years ago when I wanted to keep a tree up as long as possible...from just after Thanksgiving to just before Valentine's Day, especially with traveling in between. You can't do that with a real tree, of course. But I agree about the smell. Nothing like it. And of course, what my kids always remind me of...I love Christmas trees because they're so QUIET. I need them in my life. Astrid and I will get a tree once my TruckPacks arrive with all my ornaments. It should at least be up for Christmas here...a real tree that can be planted (except most here don't). I'm still pinching myself! :)

Sidney said...

We in the Philippines we start decorating our Christmas tree in the first -ber month which is September.
Since we don't have snow and very little pine trees we overcompensate by starting early!

Ruth said...

rauf, the job suits your generous and child-like personality, as well as your beard.

Ruth said...

Oh Boots, a comment from across the pond, how do you like that! I'm so happy you are there in the best landing ever, settling in, and spreading out your wings.

Live trees are the best. As I told dear Vagabonde, whom you "met" at your blogs because you found out you both lived in Atlanta, a tree still grows in Istanbul named "Lesley-han" that our doorman planted after we gave him our "New Year's" tree. Don saw it on Google Earth (but can't find it any more) and it was huge.

Ruth said...

Sidney, with as many festival holidays as the Philippines has, it doesn't surprise me that they want to decorate and leave it all up for three or four months. In your pictures there seems to be always some street ritual, and so so colorful. I think Filipinos must be very celebratory people, like Indians. I think only rauf shows almost as many images of street celebrations. I look forward to your Christmas photographs, maybe after Ifugao / Mayoyao?

Loring Wirbel said...

Totally agree on the Frasier fir. And I figure I must have made more than 50 Reader's Digest trees as a kid.

Spray painting in volume is nasty, though. Talked to the guy who had to spray-paint/screen 500 unique covers for an art LP that only had a run of 500. He said he almost got emphysema, and griped about "The things we do for art." Similar story from John Darnielle from Mountain Goats. He was supposed to hand-paint 700 covers, and said he gave up after 400 or so. Can you imagine doing a volume business in Reader's Digest trees?

Ruth said...

Loring, that's nasty! I would never have thought that people would hand-paint LP covers, what a cool thing, except for the emphysema part.

Sandy said...

Great post and I love the artwork that is framed on the wall near the tree, ohhh beautiful.

shoreacres said...

My life utterly changed the year I fell in love with an artificial tree I found in a tiny boutique called, of all things, "Geranium".

It's about 5' tall, but double-trunked (real wood) and skinny and it looks for all the world exactly like a Texas hill country cedar. It has no symmetry at all, and lots of places to tuck little treasures, and every year during hurricane season it goes to live in a nice, temperature controlled storage unit because I couldn't bear to lose it - silly me!

Oh - and under it's little burlap skirt there is 25 feet of galvanized 3/8" link steel chain, wrapped around its trunks. It's a little "tippy" because of its unusual shape, and had to be kitty-proofed.

Jeanie said...

This is a beautiful post, Ruth, filled with joy, love, tradition, and such sensuality that I can smell the trees. I agree with you about Frasier fir -- even though I've gone faux, Rick is still real and last year we did it late -- all that was left was scotch pines and oh! Those ornaments didn't work at all. I love that you "love all year round," but like you, I "see" people at the tree who aren't there this year, perhaps never again. It's bittersweet, but good. Shows how much we care.

lesleyanne said...

I'm so happy that you got a real tree! I have so many happy memories of tree-picking with the family, before the allergies started up. :) We'll have a fake tree forever, but I'm ok with that! We just buy evergreen scented candles, and it's almost like the real thing!

I really love your new banner, gorgeous!

Ruth said...

Hi, thank you, Sandy. Peter painted it in high school in the manner of Peter Maxx, her name is Purty Gurty. I love her too. And Lesley's hand sewn felt doves are hanging on the Christmas chord.

Ruth said...

Linda, I know the kind of tree you mean. You reminded me that I have a couple somewhere, must be in the attic. I really like that type of artificial tree too, because they look homemade. I have a collection of Radko ornaments that remain in the attic most Christmases. If I decide to decorate with them, 1) I have to find a space since our house is crowded, and 2) I have to find the proper tree. They are heavy ornaments, large, and of delicate glass. I usually find a small, live balsam. The house before the farm was nearly twice as big, and there were vast spaces to put that tree.

Ruth said...

Jeanie, thank you. I finally decked the tree last night, after a week it stood only in its lights. We got home from work, Don was making dinner, and I completely enjoyed unwrapping each small treasure, as if I were a museum curator.

I know you will enjoy your Christmas with Rick this year with more gravitas than any previous year, after what you experienced a few short weeks ago.

Ruth said...

Wesrey sweet girl. I never thought about that, you will always have a fake tree. Wow. Knowing you, you and your family (ha) will find brilliant ways to make any tree you put up utterly unique, festive and beautiful.

Thank you, I'm glad you like the banner.

And I will be picturing you at the show tomorrow!!! I hope everyone loves your doves as much as I do.