November and December are the months when I get the most nostalgic. And also homesick for the desert. Being nostalgic and homesick always make me remember the traditions I grew up with. The first thing I usually think of when getting homesick during the holidays is the countless Thanksgivings spent with my aunt, uncle and cousin. But Thanksgiving has passed and this is called Christmas memories, so the next thing I think about is Christmas trees.
Every year since I can remember we would buy our Christmas tree at a nearby lot called Arnie’s. Arnie and his family were from Oregon so of course they had the best trees. We would arrive on the lot in the evening after my dad got home from work. Then we’d browse the rows and rows of evergreen trees looking for the perfect one. Eventually we started bringing chili and cornbread to Arnie and his family when we went to pick out tree. They usually had a small fire going in a pit and sometimes dad would sit there chatting with the men while we went to find a tree we wanted.
We had a special process for decorating the tree. There were about a gazillion ornaments to put on the tree, but there was a certain order you had to follow. Lights first, then the cranberry garland, then the little Coca Cola Santa boxes, then the apples, and then whatever we uncovered in the remaining twelve million boxes.
My sister and I would run out of steam pretty quickly, even with a steady stream of Christmasy goodness coming through the speakers and playing throughout the house. We’d stop and watch mom put a few ornaments on before taking it up again. I’m pretty sure there were a couple years when Elise just opted out and watched us do the whole thing.
Last to go on was the angels at the top. Angels, plural, is correct. My mom has four antique angel ornaments from her grandmother (my great grandmother) Eva. Those four surround the one that tops the tree which is a beautiful crocheted angel. I’m not sure where my mother got it, but I love it and all angels I’ve seen that are meant for tree toppers pale in comparison. The gorgeous simplicity of her crocheted angel makes all those gaudy doll looking angels seem as if they’re trying to hard. Since I can’t find an angel as good as my mom’s, I’ve settled for a sparkly silver star as my tree topper, when I get a tree that is.
After the angels had been properly placed, we’d sit back and admire our handiwork, usually sipping hot chocolate and eating gingerbread. I think what I’m most nostalgic for is that kind of simple happiness. The kind only a pretty tree can bring.