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Sunday, June 20, 2021

    Christmas Tree Memories

    Mike Ruby
    A Muscatine resident for over forty years, Mike Ruby had careers both as a teacher at Muscatine High school and as a writer for nonprofit companies. Now retired, Ruby continues to cultivate his love for writing by contributing monthly Ruby's Reflections to Discover Muscatine newspaper.

    Muscatine Living

    An important part of making Christmas special is a beautifully decorated tree occupying center stage in a home or business. As I recently carried the same, fully decorated, artificial tree up the basement stairs for the 15th consecutive year, I recalled many memories of our Christmas trees from years past.

    Growing up, Mother frequently reminded me of my first Christmas tree adventure as a toddler. The tree was in the corner and adorned with a lot of homemade decorations, including frosted sugar cookies. One December afternoon, she found me squished behind the tree nibbling the cookies, getting plenty of red and green frosting on my bib overalls and face. Busted!

    As I got older, I remember eagerly hauling boxes marked “Christmas stuff” from the attic. The bubble lights were favorites and the ornaments were a mixture of store bought and homemade. The tree was topped either with a star or an angel. The final task to completing our masterpiece was to carefully place “icicles” on the tree, one by one. Mother insisted we reuse the icicles year after year. She also saved wrapping paper, tissue paper, bows, bags, and boxes, but that’s a topic for a future article.

    In early January, we’d dismantle the tree, and that task was not nearly as much fun. Sometimes, we planted the tree in a big snow bank and covered it with pieces of bread for the birds. In late January, the tree was hauled away, signifying finality to that year’s Christmas tree adventures.

    For several years, when our two kids were young, Jo Anne and I declared the first Saturday in December to be “Christmas tree day”. We bundled up, piled into the station wagon, and drove to a tree farm to select the perfect tree. We returned home with our treasure tied to the roof of the car, eager for the decorating to begin. After securing it in a stand, we began creating our family masterpiece while Christmas music blared from the cassette player. We ended the adventure with mugs of hot chocolate and homemade goodies, convinced our tree was the most attractive one in town.

    Today, it’s just the two of us setting up the tree. It’s small, pre-lit, and remains permanently adorned with the same decorations, but it still occupies center stage in our living room and Christmas music is heard throughout the house. Yes, today’s “Christmas tree day” is significantly quieter than it was decades ago, but I’m thankful to have many decades of Christmas tree memories to ponder every December.

    What Christmas tree memories do you have?

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