Monday, December 5, 2016

Sepia Saturday #346

Two days late and waaaay too many dollars short ...

Alan's December 3 prompt, along with Deb Gould's post in response to the prompt, had me immediately thinking of the childhood anticipation of Christmas. Just like summer vacation from school seemed to last a lifetime, the wait from Thanksgiving until Christmas seemed to go on interminably. Of course, back then the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade was a real, much lauded thing and the arrival of Santa Claus at the end of the parade heralded in the Christmas shopping season (unlike now, when it often preceeds the arrival of the Great Pumpkin). And one thing every anxious child pestered about was the setting up of the Christmas tree.

Now, as long as I can remember, my parents had an artificial Christmas tree, which meant that it could be set up and decorated anytime my father got tired of my constant whining and pleading and gave in. Believe me, I was an expert at Christmas Tree Whining, a genetic anomaly that I have since passed on to my younger daughter, who has turned it into an art form. Over the years, my mother had various themed trees, depending on whim and "fashion," from monochromatic bows-n-balls, to birds, to a mishmash of collectibles. In turn, my trees have been a combination of real and artificial, with no theme whatsoever. But no tree I have ever seen, or ever even imagined, has quite equaled my Grandma Shaffer's.

This is me, Christmas 1966.

And this, in the corner of the photo, is what she affectionately called "The Umbrella Tree."

The umbrella tree was exactly what it sounds like: the carcass of an old umbrella, fabric removed, set up in a tree shape and decorated with tinsel garland and Christmas balls. Easy to set up, easy to take down, and unique in every way. We know this quirky little tree dates back at least as far as the 1950s, because my sister remembers it as a child, too. We don't know if my grandmother ever had a "real" Christmas tree, but the one she had was certainly memorable! 

Today, it makes its home with my cousin -- I don't know if he ever sets it up, or if it's in a box somewhere in his attic and he just doesn't have the heart to throw it away. But I sincerely hope that at least once he will decide to bring it out and dust it off, and set it up for his grandchildren to wonder at. 

As Dean Martin sang, "Memories are made of this."

For other Sepia Saturday posts, click ==> HERE!


  1. An umbrella tree sounds like a great idea to me, especially the folding away! Great memories and nicely linked to the prompt picture.

  2. You and the umbrella tree were very sweet. We've had a 'real' tree the last few Christmases but I'm thinking an artificial one would be a lot easier and much less messy! They use pine trees here and we seem to be picking up needles for months afterwards.

  3. What an original idea - the umbrella tree! Jo, I too got fed up of picking up pine needles long after Christmas, and went over to an artificial tree - I would recommend it!

  4. Lovely post, I love the idea of that umbrella tree. I hope it does come out of the attic at least once in a while. I'm going artificial, too, next year, after two years with no tree.

  5. Haven't had a tree at all for several years...first because there just wasn't enough room, so I hung real boughs of evergreens on the wall and decorated them. Then there have been years when nobody could visit my home, so why bother. I think I have even given away most of the old ornaments by now. But I've never seen an umbrella tree!

  6. When Mom & Dad moved into an adult mobile home park, they didn't want to mess around with a Christmas tree - real or otherwise, so Mom found a little fold-up cardboard tree with attached lights and ornaments. It really was pretty & was easily set up and taken down. But the tree I remember most when I was growing up was the Ivory Snow tree - a real tree Mom coated with whipped up Ivory Snow Flakes. It looked great, but every time we turned on the lights, it smelled like soap and if we left the lights on too long, the soap-snow began to melt. :)

  7. A repurposed umbrella! So perfect. I bet people would love to make those today if they could find out how.