In preparation for some guest blogs, I’ve been reading up on Christmas traditions in Regency England. Turns out, the Regency observances of the holiday were quite a bit more subdued than those of the Victorian era.
One glaring omission of the period is the Christmas tree, which was introduced to England by Victoria’s German consort, Prince Albert. In this instance, we Americans were ahead of the Brits in Christmas fa-la-la: we had Christmas trees before them, because after all we had all those Hessians they sent over to fight us.
Oh true, we had other immigrants from the Germanic countries. In any case, whether they came to fight us or to befriend us, they brought with them the German tradition of decorating an evergreen tree with lights and shiny objects.
In the real vs. fake debate, we waivered and then settled firmly on the side of real. Here is our 2006 tree. Sadly, we’ve never had more than an eight foot ceiling, so every year our tree has always been about the same height, seven feet. Two years ago, in a fit of rebellion because my family wasn’t helping with decorating, I came home with a four foot tree.
Quelle horreur. I was roundly chastised by my adult son, and the next year he escorted me to the tree lot, did all the heavy lifting, put the lights on, and brought his girlfriend over to finish the decorating.
I take a picture of my tree every year. It’s a tradition I started when my kids were little. My mother, who lived a half a continent away wouldn’t travel to spend the holiday with us. A picture was a way to share our tree and some of our happiness with her.
Thank God I date the pictures because there’s a sameness about our trees that probably reflects how white-bread boring we are. Or is that comforting and safe?
While we dress up a new tree every year in old duds, my mother, a bit of a slacker in her later years, found an easier way–she left her three foot fake tree up all year long! The first couple of years she covered it during the off season. The last few years she adopted a kind of Auntie Mamish “We need a little Christmas now” spirit and just let the dusty ornaments hang out. My kids would plug in the lights when we visited.
So, here’s the age old question for all of you observers of the Christmas holiday: real or fake?