One of my first (or oldest) Christmas memories is not really “my” memory…but is a memory passed down over the years and shared with me many, many times. The memory of my grandmother’s Christmas tree. The tree my dad remembered so fondly from his childhood. Every year, my grandma would begin in November creating the family tree. It was not an evergreen but a bare branch tree that she lovely, and painstakingly, wrapped in cotton. Each limb was individually wound in the thinnest layers of white cotton.
I was told this could take her days – even weeks to complete. With each branch made to look as if covered in snow, then little white lights would twinkle and shine through the “snow” creating a tree that would awe every family member and visitor alike. Everyone old enough has wonderful memories of grandma’s Christmas trees! I have never seen one of my grandmother’s special trees and can only imagine how beautiful it would have been in person.
I do, however, remember the trees we had when I was young. We would have a real tree (from the nearby shopping center parking lot) and my father would, just as carefully, spray the tree with snow from a can. Again, each limb was perfectly coated and, then, we would have blue lights. Blue lights glowing through and reflecting off each white coated branch. And silver balls:) It may be hard to imagine but it was beautiful…and it was especially beautiful because my parent’s tree was a labor of love. Just as my grandmother’s tree had been for her family.
So much we do this time of year is exactly that – a labor of love. It might be your tree, the Christmas village you set out or a collection of snowmen everyone remembers. Maybe it is the color-coded wrapping paper, Grandma’s favorite cookie recipe or a million other things. They probably take extra effort and time (that many do not appreciate) but those extra labors of love are memories in the making – that can impact generations. Yes, there can be some traditions that change, evolve or even go away as the years go by – I know it has happened at our empty-nest home. But I don’t want to be too quick to let go of all the “little extras” – simply because I think no one really notices or cares anymore. I believe they do. Things may take me longer to finish – requiring patience. I might even have to ask for help – gasp. But when I see the Christmas labors of love as just that – labors of love for those I love – they bring me real Christmas joy!