O, Tannenbaum!

Lopsided star and all, we found the perfect spot for a little Christmas tree in the living room. I’m starting to feel festive! We were thrilled when we found a fake tree at Canadian Tire that didn’t take on the appearance of tacky twisted-together fuzzy green pipecleaners. This actually looks real! It’s complete with pinecones, glittery red berries, brown branches, and fresh-looking new growth. I’ve never experienced a fake tree before, as my parents always had a real tree. I do miss the smell of pine, but at least we don’t have the hassle of messy pine needles, and no worries of teething puppy ingesting any sharp needles. Every spring, our municipality offers free baby trees of many different varieties to plant, and we’re considering planting one every year. In 5-6 years, we’ll have our own home-grown Christmas trees!

My parents have a wonderful tradition when it comes to tree ornaments. Every ornament on that tree has come in the form of a gift over the years. No two decorations are alike, and each carries with it a memory of the person who gave it and the circumstance around it. Decorating the tree at my parents house was always a grand occasion, and my brothers and I would eagerly await as my mother carefully unwrapped each treasure for us to place on the tree. We took turns placing ornaments, as without this order, there would have been chaos as we’d have been clamoring over each other to place our favourite ornaments. Decorating the tree would occur over the course of an hour. We’d eat candy canes (Steven got the cherry ones because he hated peppermint), christmas cookies (if we had made them), and the adults would drink Grog, a mix of rum, hot water, and rock sugar. We’d play an old cassette by Heintje child-star from 1968 who would sing hauntingly beautiful German Christmas carols. It was a part of my father’s Christmases growing up and listening to this music was a small way we could bring Germany to Canada.

I found some of Heintje’s music on youtube… boy it brings back memories! I’ve linked a few of my favourites:
O, Tannenbaum
Oh Du Fröhliche
Kling, Glöckchen kling
Leise rieselt der Schnee

When we were little, my mother had to re-decorate the tree after us kids had left, as we could only reach the lowest branches. Placing the tinsel was also her honour, and the tree would glitter in the wake of the breeze when anyone passed it.

I can see in my mind’s eye the ornaments that will go on my parents’ tree this year. My favourites were always the ones that you could stick one of the lightbulbs into for an added lighting effect. When I was small, my mother got a bauble with an entire scene inside that was lit up when a light bulb was inserted at the top. That was one of my favourites. More recently, I had a pair of fairies with fibreglass wings that would glow with a light. We also had a series of rockinghorses that took on very realistic equine coat patterns. Sadly, the series was retired, but we had a lot of ponies on our tree! Each year, my mother gives each of us kids this year’s edition of our respective series. Some of the ornaments on the tree are home-made as we grew up. There is a pine cone with glitter glued to it that I made in Kindergarden. There are also spray-painted angels that were made from various-shaped noodles. There are glass-beaded snowflakes and angels that I made in the last 10 years. My brothers also have their own home-made ornaments. We even have a 10 year old bubblegum flavoured candy cane that we brought back with us from Florida when we spent Christmas there 11 years ago.

Our tree doesn’t have much history yet. We bought a package of baubles from Canadian tire to get us started, and it looks good! So far, we’ve one gifted ornament on the tree: the Partridge in a Pear tree that Jeff received from me last Christmas. I hope it’s a tradition that we’ll continue to enjoy for many, many years!

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5 Responses
  1. Lynn Snider says:

    Oh Christmas Tree!!! What a beautiful one it is! I can just image you, Jeff, Shady and the kitties sitting around and watching those glimmering lights. We’re getting our’s on Saturday. We’re picking Aunt Karin up with the truck and going out to get her’s as well. I can’t wait. Our external illuminations are complete and I’m ready to start indoors. My gifts are almost all bought and I’m ready to start wrapping! Thanks for sharing your beautiful memories – and are they wonderful! That’s what this time of year is so all about – creating memories that last a lifetime! Love Aunt Lynn

    • jhenkel says:

      You’re absoloutely right!

      My Christmas shopping is getting there, and I’ll do a wrapping session tomorrow as I don’t have a perfect hiding spot for Jeff’s gifts. All my Christmas shopping was done on-line this year, which worked out well with puppy.

      Are you cutting your own tree down this year?

  2. Lynn Snider says:

    No we’re too old for tromping through the winter wonderland so we’re off to Meadow Acres where they hang the trees in a somewhat indoor facility. You can see what you’re buying and we always get a tannenbaum that I just love! You’re right though, I’m glad I’m just about done shopping as I have run out of hiding places, money and ideas! Enjoy creating those memories, you have a wonderful man to do that with!!! Love Aunt Lynn

  3. Jessica says:

    Aww! This post made me so happy, Julia! Just the thing I needed to get me into the Christmas spirit. I totally know what you mean about Christmas music. When I put on Roger Whittaker’s Christmas record, it’s like I’m 7 years old again and back in our house in Canada. I gotta say though that you talking about your family putting up Christmas decorations made me a bit nostalgic. I really missed you guys up in Canada, especially around Christmastime.

    It’s fun making new traditions though isn’t it!? Ben and I get a tree every year and string popcorn and cranberries while watching cheesy Christmas movies. It really is the most wonderful time of the year! I’m excited to hear that you and Jeff are keeping old traditions going as well! Here’s sending you much love!

  4. Jayne says:

    Oh my goodness! This one put tears in my eyes! All the beautiful Christmases we have had! Without you here for the preparations such as decorating the tree does make me somewhat sad. No really sad, but I also know that you are creating your own life and I am so happy that you and Jeff have your own first Christmas tree this year. You can start your own tree with all the wonderful memories you will be creating. Much love and kisses, Mom

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