Christmas Trees: Does Size Matter

by Bella Rum

IMG_4637_2H dragged the Christmas tree down from the attic for me yesterday. It’s not quite five feet tall, which sounds big, but it’s not. It’s one of those skinny trees, not quite a pencil tree but slim-ish. It nearly reaches my nose. I set it on a long table behind the sofa. I like it. I’m not decorating it yet, if that’s what you think.

I realize that Halloween candy is still being found between the sofa cushions, and Thanksgiving is a little over two weeks away, but half of the lights stopped working on our tree last year. I leave the lights on it from year to year, and I never take it apart or put it back in the box. It stands in the attic all year, draped in a sheet, waiting to be called into action, but looking for all the world like a lonely specter. I promised myself last year that instead of waiting until the last possible minute, I’d remove all the lights long before decorating day and restring it. This is me keeping my promise. I bought new lights and started putting them on yesterday.

I like this ‘little at a time’ approach. I’m not a last-minute sort. There’s always plenty left to do just before the kids arrive, and our small, quiet, two-person family turns into a boisterous, good-time-Charlie family of seven and the good times roll. Believe me, it’s a roller coaster ride with all the thrills you’d expect.

When do you decorate your tree? Do you even have a tree? My nephew pointed out to me that our trees get smaller and smaller as we get older and older. We start out with to-the-ceiling trees with large, downward swooping limbs, dozens of decorations and lots of room for gifts for the entire family under its lowest branches. The tree gradually shrinks over the decades, and by the time we’re ten or fifteen years out from the grave, our trees are small, table-top numbers that need about fifteen ornaments. Even a package of candy canes will do the trick.

Of course, you cannot increase your life span by prolonging the large-tree stage of life. There are always exceptions. Take my Aunt Ruthie. Never has there been a woman who enjoyed Christmas and all its trimmings more than Aunt Ruthie. She decorated over a half-dozen trees every year until the year before she died. They were varying sizes. She had small ones, fat ones, medium-size ones, large ones, pencil ones and so on. She was a collector. She must have had over a hundred Santa’s, and every year, sometime in November, her puzzle table gave way to a Dickens’ Village.

She had more style than anyone I ever knew. She was a sophisticated woman, but Christmas turned her into a giddy kid who wore Santa sweatshirts.  When it came to Christmas, more was more for Aunt Ruthie. She started decorating before Thanksgiving, and I don’t think she stopped until Christmas Eve. She reveled in all the unpacking and re-packing and fidgeting with and messing with and rediscovering her familiar treasures. Aunt Ruthie was an outlier among her peers, though. Most of us go smaller and simpler as we age. I think of her as my Christmases become more of a streamline affair with every passing year.

I never thought about judging my longevity by the size of my Christmas tree. Though a little disconcerting, I do get my nephew’s point. In most cases, size does matter when it comes to Christmas trees. 😮