Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Sliver Tinsel Chritsmas Tree - or how my mother stole Christmas...

I do most humbly wish to beg your pardon for bringing the Yule traditions into this November offering - you who know me know that this is not my style.

I have long been known for my "Bah! Humbug!" attitude especially towards breaking the December 1 release date, but I remembered a yarn and it appears I am mellowing in  my dotage (well, it feels like it some days - I was putting this lethargy at the altar of "old mother young child (nyah, nyah we told you so)" but apparently "gestated-lactated-menstruated anemia*" gets to podium.  So nyah nyah back, some old mother young child combos apparently don't feel as exhausted as I)...

* I keep going to say amnesia - but I know its not - and then I laugh because that would indeed be amnesia

So yeah, really mellowing in my dotage.  

Anyhoo, I remembered the tale of the Silver Tinsel Christmas Tree and thought perhaps it should be written down.

We don't have Christmas tree memories that include warm cocoa and tree lots and the smell of pine oils. 

Ours instead are of mysterious boxes in the top corner of the office cupboard that were unearthed annually, the contents of which shone in festive delight in the the corner of the living room...

The first ever yuletide tradition that is in my memory is the Silver Tinsel Christmas Tree made of the fore-mentioned tinsel glued to wires that clicked into the trunk of steel.  It was a thing of beauty and engineering splendour - for a few years.  And then, sadly, it was no longer a thing of beauty and splendour - and it was the first item of importance that I ever recall the end of.** 
** Perhaps this was because most other items of importance that were attempted at ending were rescued by weekly missions I took to our dump.  

My mother was very canny in how she ended the reign of the Silver Tinsel Christmas Tree.

We were going down to the Sunshine Coast for the Christmas holidays.  Markets must have been up or the dollar good or something, but we were going down to the promise of the beach, the cricket, and rellos crammed into every spare space for a whole week!

My mum must have been feeling excessively wealthy, because she proposed that rather than do our usual tree, she would decadently lash out and get us a DIFFERENT tree for the holidays.  Maybe even - a REAL tree.

Two things.  

Firstly - perhaps it wasn't a part of your culture or background, but packing the Christmas Tree to put up at the end of your journey is not just a real thing for some people - but it JUST WAS.  

Remember how packed the car used to get going away on the holidays?  

Full Summer.  Pre-air-conditioned cars.  Packed to the roof-racks.  Knees around your ears and holding half the presents.  Now add in a few boxes for the tree and baubels.  It happened.

And secondly - there is a GOOD REASON why Australians - or more specifically, Queenslanders - choose to eschew real trees.

ReasonS.  Millions of the little buggers that parch and plummet as soon as you have exchanged money for the tree.  

And I can assure you, the smell of old, dry, flammable pine needles mixed with 35 degree day in a Queensland summer is not necessarily a fragrance that evokes positive flashbacks - and it may be why so many of us drink.

But yes.  My mother.  The tree.  

I have worked out NOW, forty years later, that she was prising our yearning off the Silver Tinsel Christmas Tree and attempting to pre-campaign a double-bluff to advantage her choice for the replacement - a more traditional green plastic tree that took up less acreage or cubic volume and required less vacuuming - than whatever yahoo concoction that may connect with my father's eye and was brought into the familial equation.

Well played, Mother.  Well played.

So - what was your first memory of such chicanery? 


Kelly said...

I love this tale!

First of all, despite living in the southern US, where it's as good a chance as any that it will be warm for Christmas, it's still officially Wintertime.

Now I CAN relate to artificial trees since that's all I've really ever known in my long, long life. Always in the green variety, though. That's not to say I didn't sometime stand in awe at those silver ones folks would spotlight with rotating colors.

No chicanery involved, but I do have fond memories of my one and only white Christmas - it included a live tree that was decorated by my clever mother with everything edible, from home-baked cookies in cellophane to strings of popcorn and cranberry.
Well over 50 years ago, but I still can picture it.

jeanie said...

Oh wow! We once tried to do edible stuff on the tree - I am sure it s part of the ant folklore also! Not a huge success from the human perspective (but an absolute winner from the ant's)

Debby said...

Well. I'm not sure if it qualifies as chicanery, but my mother was pregnant with me for their first Christmas, and my father decreed that a tree would be a waste of money. My mother cried. There was a tree. In those days, they were almost always real. They couldn't afford much in the line of ornaments. They got a box of plastic thing-a-mabobs. 60 years later, I place one of those ornaments on the front of my own tree. Which is a pre-lit fake one.

jeanie said...

That is beautiful, Debby. The first Christmas tradition in a relationship is VERY important - it sets the ground rules on who wins the Yule forevermore. V won ours...

jeanie said...

Aargh - Debby - I am sure I hit "publish" for your comment, but it has disappeared into the ether... sorry!