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Tea Party Winners: Carla Gade's winner is Becky Dempsey, Andrea Boeshaar's winner Caryl Kane, Gina Welborn's winner Jasmine A., Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners book copy -- Lynda Edwards, teacup and saucer -- Wendy Shoults

Monday, December 7, 2015

O Christmas Tree

Writing the title made me think of the Christmas song by this name, but the German folk song didn't even become associated with Christmas until the early 20th century. We're going back a little further. The early 1800s saw little for the celebration of Christmas in Colonial America. Most simply followed whatever traditions they had brought from the old world, or like many Puritans, none at all. It wasn't until mid century that the desire to celebrate Christmas began to take deep root in the hearts of Americans...along with the Christmas tree.

As early as 1749 it is recorded that evergreen boughs were used to decorate the pews and alter of a Catholic church in Philadelphia, but it took a little while before people began hauling the whole tree into their houses. Not until the 1830s do we hear about the first fur trees placed with care and
decorated. Than in 1848, Prince Albert had one set up at Windsor Castle. The print of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria and their family around the tree appeared in the Illustrated London News. The fashion spread fast and by the 1850s Christmas trees had become a staple for the celebration of Christmas.

Christmas trees were at first decorated by what was available: nuts, strings of popcorn, fruit, dried fruit, candies and homemade trinkets. Then newspapers and magazines began to set the bar, offering ideas that soon made people want to set aside homey ornaments for sophisticated and uniform ones. Soon businesses stepped in, providing glittery baubles, wax figurines, and tin shapes in abundance, importing many from Germany.

In my recently released short story, "I Heard the Bells", included in the anthology A Bit of Christmas, the main character decides a Christmas tree might ease the tension between him and his brother. It is 1864 and Gabriel Morgan is home in Virginia for a couple of days at Christmas...after spending the last three years fighting for the Union Army while his family staked their allegiances with the Confederacy.

~~~

Clara’s head jerked up as Gabriel plunked a scraggly spruce just inside the door of the bedroom. “What is that?”
     He flashed a grin as he knelt to tack a makeshift stand onto the trunk. “Surely you’ve seen a Christmas tree before.”
     “Yes, but it looked nothing like that.”
     “Don’t be so quick to judge. There’s potential.” He glanced at his brother. “Remember that year Pa was away? We didn’t want to wait, so we went out ourselves. You must have been six or seven, and me maybe ten. I still remember the look on Mama’s face.”
    Probably because you saw it again when you hauled this tree past her. Clara bit her tongue.
    With no reply from Lawrence, Gabriel stood the tree upright and left. A few minutes later, he returned with a handful of nuts, a single candle, some string and clusters of crimson berries that he began to distribute amongst the branches.
     “Are those rosehips?”
     “We needed something to brighten this room.”
   
~~~

So how do you decorate your tree? With homemade trinkets, or store-bought baubles and bows?

10 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing about Christmas trees, very interesting.
    We decorate ours with a mixture of both, hand made and bought.
    Blessings,Tina

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    1. That's what we usually do, as well. Thanks for stopping by! :)

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  2. Same here, Tina. Some bought, some hand-made, and quite a few that were handed down or were gifts.

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    1. I like a mixture. It makes the tree so much more personal. :) Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Happy birthday, Angela!!! Great article! Looking forward to reading your new release!!!

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  4. Wonderful article, Angela! My mother's family decorated their Christmas tree with strings of popcorn and chains of colored paper held together with glue my grandmother made from flour and water. When my children were still at home, we used a combination of their handmade decorations and glass ornaments. One recent year, my husband and I only decorated our tree with strings of lights; simplistic but still lovely.

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Cynthia! I love the flour and water glue. I think it would be fun to do a old fashioned Christmas and only hand make decorations. :)

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  5. Usually a mix of both. I love the story behind each special ornament. Currently, I am in search for a tree topper to finish off.

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    1. Thanks for sharing. I wish you luck in your tree topper search! :)

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