You are reading a post from Christine Fader’s “A Vintage Life” blog. Join the romance with all things retro at https://avintagelife.wordpress.com
Legend has it that I am to blame for the eclectic assortment of ornaments that adorned our family Christmas tree while I was growing up.
It was the 1970s and we had the classic large, multi-coloured lightbulbs all over our tree, emboldened by metal, multi-coloured reflectors surrounding each light. We also had an assortment of metal, multi-coloured ornaments (which succumbed to breakage or loss of paint over the years) and of course, the requisite silver “icicle” tinsel festooned every branch.
The story goes that when I was almost 1 (my birthday is in February), my dad went to a local store to pick up some Christmas decorations for his young family’s tree. He describes a decision method which involved me pointing my chubby finger at sparkly things, which he then purchased. It should be explained that my dad has many exceedingly lovely qualities, however, the expression “his taste is all in his mouth” has been often attributed in his direction. Perhaps this was why I often caught my mother sighing during the festive season and avoiding direct eye contact with the tree.
We always had a “real” tree and there was great debate about what kind. Some of us favoured the elegant spruce while others loved the scotch pine and we
even had the occasional year with what I thought was a rather lumpy fir. No matter the tree, it always had a hole somewhere in it. This was a good thing for it meant that my sister’s nursery school papier mache ball (complete with gold spray-painted maraconi and bits of lace) could be called into service and have its season of glory.
On tree decorating night, my father would first go to the record player and put on the-record-that-to-this-day-means-Christmas-is-here: Christmas with Nat King Cole. Then, he would start sweating, as parents do, for their family’s Christmas happiness.
Year through year, my father struggled with chopping off the bottom of the sticky trunk with the hand saw he’d brought with him when we moved from Calgary and with some grunting and muttering, wedged it into the tree stand that required five hands to keep the red, metal legs from falling out while he was trying to wrestle the tree in. Then, with his head muffled from way under the tree, he would try to tighten the completely inadequate three little screws that were supposed to impale themselves somehow into the trunk and hold an 8-foot tree upright and…uh..straight.
After all the sweating and muttering, (and sometimes some strategic bracing to ensure the tree wouldn’t topple out of its screws) came the lights extravaganza. Broken lights had to be replaced, we had to vary the colours on the string and it was my sister’s and my job to poke the lights through the metal flower reflectors. I remember them being quite sharp and I’m sure there would probably be some kind of kiddie safety ban on them nowadays.
After what seemed like several hours of grunting and bleeding and sweating, we would turn on the lights and marvel at their solar death ray brightness. Nothing says Christmas like spots before your eyes and band-aids on your hands.
We had real trees, but when I found this silver tree recently, it brought back my childhood. It’s of the era – an era of silver icicle tinsel and shiny metal ornaments and the gigantic
light bulbs and flower reflectors. It’s got that 70s, not-a-colour-found-in-nature, solar death ray vibe about it and I love it.
My one remaining hot pink, metal ornament (just like the ones shown here!) from childhood is gonna look super groovy.