childhood memory: the christmas tree

Author: angiem, 12 20th, 2011

It is dark when mom awakens us from our nap. The rose painted walls are softly lit by the white world outside. Mom comes in and closes the wood shutters, turns on the chandelier overhead. The room is cold, the fire in the tiled corner fireplace, low. We bundle in our itchy woolen sweaters and follow mom into the hall. Dad comes in, snow glistening on his shoulders, dragging behind him a tall evergreen. He positions it into a corner of the square-shaped room where it will keep watch for the next few weeks.

The box of fragile ornaments is brought in from the attic, as well as a box of baked goodies, and one of oranges recently received from the States. I am given permission to select an orange, which dad then peels and hands to us in slices. The citrus taste, so unexpected and refreshing, overtakes my taste buds. I am in love with this taste. In my seven I have never tasted anything this good. Of course I want more. We all do.

But mom counts the oranges, making sure she has enough for the carolers stopping by. She lines them up, threads them and hangs them on the tree. After the oranges comes the ribboned, golden walnuts, then the foil wrapped home-made chocolate, followed by the Christmas candy in its fancy paper, and finally the jewel-toned glass baubles. Mom does all the work. The rest of us are her audience. The last waxy candle is clipped to the branches and lit, and dad turns off the lights. We stare in silence at the enchanting beauty before us.

My dad starts an ancient carol about the holy mother and golden pears and silver apples. When his voice trails off my mother starts one she’s learned at her grandmother’s knee, about lambs, treasure and holy men. We end the carol singing with “Silent Night, Holy Night.”

The candles are extinguished and the light turned on. Even dimmed in its glory, the tree holds us spellbound. In the other room the table is set. The carolers are on their way.


18 Responses to “childhood memory: the christmas tree”

  1. lisahgolden Says:

    This is beautiful. These are beautiful customs and how wonderful that your family kept them alive.

  2. Mary Moon Says:

    If I had childhood memories anything like that, I might feel differently about Christmas.

  3. Stephanie @ La Dolce Vita Says:

    how beautiful! I love the imagery!

  4. Ava Says:

    I missed reading your memories. You got the best ones!!! I wish we had traditions like that.

  5. Jena Says:

    Wow! I love this! I hope your writing all your memories down.

  6. Ruth Says:

    Beautiful! I love the fruit, nuts, and candy ornaments. Did your dad sing “pe poduț de raiu”? I have some carols and that one has a verse about the silver apples that the hostess collects and passes out. But I definitely want to try decorating with the fruits and candies.

  7. Naomi Says:

    Your writing is so magical. It reminded me so much about my childhood….we had very similar traditions. I wish I could write them down as well as you!!! Merry Christmas!!!

  8. Elisabeth Stewart Says:

    Christmas seemed so much simpler and yet more magical and wondrous in childhood. Things have become more frantic, more consumer oriented now.
    Such a beautifully written memory – makes the reader feel right there.

  9. Susan Tiner Says:

    Angie, reading this I felt like I was right there with you and your family, staring at the beautiful tree.

    We don’t light wax candles but do turn out the lights and admire our tree, carols playing softly in the background. Singing is even better.

    It seems like the typical US Christmas has no soul, but I know that some people try to make it meaningful.

    Thank you for your lovely comment on my blog and please never worry about being late, there’s no rush, none at all.

  10. Claudia Says:

    Loved it Angie…brings me back to my Christmas memories as a child!

  11. Susan Says:

    Lovely, as always. The orange (yes):)

  12. Diane Says:

    LOVE your story and wish I was sitting there with you enchanted in that moment. Hugs sweet friend and the Merriest of Chrsitmases to you!!! :O)

  13. Gina Says:

    I wish i had your memories. We didn’t celebrate Christmas in our family. Having a Christmas tree was a sin.
    Merry Christmas Angie, and, happy new year!!!

  14. Kelleyn Says:

    Sounds like a beautiful tree!

  15. Be Inspired! - Susa Says:

    You paint such beautiful images with your word talent! I loved your Parisian macaron post. You understand why the title really grabbed me, non?

    I’d macaronize (yay, a new verb) by cultivating the inner jam/ganache filling - creativity and lovely sensitivity towards others - by deliberately taking time for you and the things you wish to develop. Ask yourself “where am I the happiest?” A tough one, and the answer may not come instantly. Then start finding, or forcing to find, time for that.

    Then unfortunately, I’d say, we all tender souls (I am one of them) need that thin but firm macaron cookie coating. So that we get our voice heard and don’t end up frustrated. But that coating can be really meager, and has to only be there when the going gets tough. With real friends, no coatings… just giving and receiving!

    With you dear Angie, I need no coatings! You are precious, and through the years now!
    Have a sweet Xmastime!

    With love from my new home in Canada;) Susa

  16. Kori Says:


  17. Jeanne @ Collage of LIfe Says:

    Dear Angie…
    What a wonderful holiday memory…I feel a bit of Dickens coming on. :) I hope you had a lovely holiday with your family and send you very warm wishes for a Happy New Year…may it be filled with joy, peace and love throughout the year.

    Best wishes Angie…

    Jeanne xx

  18. Ani Says:

    Great story Angie!~ This brings back memories of an orange I had in Romania as a child… Thank you for sharing ur childhood memories! Happy New Year dear!

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