INKLINGS: O Christmas Tree(s), O Christmas Tree(s)

  • Friday, December 20, 2013



Christmas trees were first used outdoors, history tells us, probably about 1,000 years ago in Northern Europe. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert popularized their use indoors in 1846. The trend swiftly spread to America’s east coast, because the sketch of the Royal Family surrounding a Christmas tree appeared in the widely circulated Illustrated London News.

This makes it more than probable that Summerville celebrated the Christmas of 1847 with indoor trees. They would have been decorated with paper chains, apples, nuts and cookies to mark the town’s incorporation on December 17 of that year. Although Summerville is now 166 years old, official Summerville outdoor trees were first used over 50 years ago when those flanking town hall were lit for the holidays.

Christmas trees glow in family histories too. When I was young we had huge trees lit with large colored bulbs and dripping with tinsel. Jim and I have shared 56 Christmases. With four children and six grands, we’ve had a myriad of trees and collected innumerable ornaments. They are all precious and range from a tiny cookie dough angel with elephant sized wings made in our daughter’s kindergarten to a Waterford shamrock tree from our family trip to Ireland.

In 2007 we revamped our house into an open plan, thus losing two walls and a place for a large Christmas tree. “This is great, exclaimed Jim. “Now we can downsize.” He’s still not quite sure how we’ve downsized from one huge tree to six small ones.( I was NOT losing all those precious family memory ornaments!)

Not to be outdone, my sister and her husband added a cathedral ceilinged family room and were able to upsize to eight trees. Her biggest is a Blue Ridge Mountain tree, paying homage to their Virginia home with blue lights, blue bulbs and ornaments depicting that Commonwealth’s animal life. One of her smallest is the traditional Charlie Brown tree with its scarce limb, one red ornament and Cynthia’s addition of Linus’ blue security blanket.

Daughter Cathy has decorated her huge tree in deep Victorian colors and ornaments augmented with long crystal icicle’s. This accompanies her Dickens Village pieces set out like a typical English village, reminiscent of our years living in Great Britain.

I haven’t seen our daughter Mary Clare’s tree as she lives in Lexington, but am told it’s topped with a delightfully laden Santa sled which she got this fall in North Carolina as a reminder of our trip together there this year.

Our son David offered to “get rid” of the oyster shells from our recent oyster roast. He “disposed” of them by using some to make a quartet of 15-inch Christmas trees. The whole family worked on them, using a glue gun to affix the shells onto a foam cone, shingle style and topped by gold stars. I can’t tell you how many delightful family beach trips and oyster roasts the sight of these trees will bring to mind for us all.

One of the many versions of some of the lyrics to that favorite carol, “O Christmas Tree” sums it up for me – and I hope you too.

“How often has the Christmas Tree

Afforded me the greatest glee!

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!

Much pleasure thou can’st give me.”

And so, as Tiny Tim said, “A Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us, every one!”

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