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."
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