The photo is a true treasure because, displayed on the tree, are my mother's beloved glass ornaments, given to her by my father on the first Christmas they were married. She took care of those ornaments like they were her babies, and cried pitifully when my brother broke one of them.
As the communist regime became more established in Cuba, Christmas trees ceased being available for purchase around the holidays, but my ever-resourceful godmother, Mama Lala, found a guy, who knew a guy, who had a farm . . . a lot of Mama Lala stories start off like that . . . anyway, she bought us a "Christmas tree" - some sort of bush, without leaves, but with firm branches, was cut down, shaped like a traditional tree, afixed to a wood base and spray-painted white. That was the Christmas tree that my mother put up for us every year until we came to the United States. I remember hovering nearby while the tree was decorated, and later, when I was older, helping my mother hang ornaments from its branches. I wish I had a picture of the white tree but, unfortunately, those pictures never made it across the Gulf of Mexico.
On the year in which my brother broke one of my mother's Christmas ornaments, after she finished mourning for the loss, she took the glass chards of the broken ornament and crushed them and made her own glitter, and then scattered the glitter on the white cotton that covered the base of the tree. I was enchanted by the way the lights hit the little bits of glass. I think, it was at that very moment, when my love affair with glass ornaments began.
We came to the United States in 1969. My mother's ornaments, along with so many other things, were left behind in Cuba, never to be recovered. It saddens me to have lost such a meaningful, albeit small part of my mother's heritage.
In the U.S. my family switched back and forth between real and artificial trees; each has its good points. But once I got married, I stuck to the real thing - it helped that my husband also preferred fresh trees. In 28 years of marriage, we've always had a fresh tree in the house at Christmas.
We used to go to a tree farm and cut down our own tree. It was an attempt to give our citified children a dose of nature and to show them where Christmas trees came from. We cut down trees in all weathers, we got stuck in mud a couple of times. We trampled through farms on the coldest day of December (it was always the coldest day in December), until one year, when my son John said to me: “Mommy, you and Daddy can go cut the tree, I'll wait in the car.” Since then, we've gone back to buying our trees from local vendors.
In the last couple of years, though, smaller artificial trees have made their way into the house as well, to be displayed in other rooms. Those are O.K., I enjoy them, too . . . but I somehow seem to make my way to where the fresh tree is - this year, the Living Room/Library.
Here's this year's tree . . .
A little glitter bird that was too heavy to hang on the tree is sitting on the window sill . . . He just seems to belong right there . . .
A Fabergé egg (if only, ha!) . . .
This ornament puts me in mind of The Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker Suite . . . or perhaps an Italian princess from the Renaissance . . .
As for lights, I like white lights. But when the boys were young, they insisted on colored lights, and we always let them have their way. Now my oldest son, John, seems to prefer white lights, too, and easy-going David . . . well, David just goes along with whatever . . .
I wouldn't want to commit to any aspect of decorating the Christmas tree. One of its magical qualities is its ability to change itself year after year, allowing us to fulfill so many little fantasies.
I wish all my friends in blogland a very Merry Christmas! God bless you all!