Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Parents' Grown Up Christmas Tree

Last weekend, I posted in the wee hours of the morning about my anxiety over Christmas decor (I realize there are bigger things in life to be stressed about.)  I just wasn't happy with my current Christmas decor at home.  After I posted, vented, and then decided to just embrace and use all of the things I love, I was ready to decorate.  The only problem?  I was at my parents house in Houston, so my own home and stuff wasn't exactly accessable.  (Ok, it wasn't accessible at all, duh Allison.)  Anyway, with all that decorating energy and inspiration, I had to do something, so I decided to tackle a couple of projects around my parents house.  My mom always does Christmas big around our house, so she doesn't need a lot of help in that department.  My parents house look pretty fantastic, especially at Christmas.  But the one tiny (ok, glaring) thing that needs help in their house is their Christmas tree.

My parents are seriously the most loving parents on the planet.  My brother and I have been SO blessed to have parents who love and support us as much as they do.  Our family is super close, and that is definitely because of my parents and the tone they set in our family.  (Ok, I'm getting off track, as usual.)  Anyway... because the love us sooo much, for years, they gave up much of their house to the kids, especially at Christmas time.  Our macaroni creations, playdo ornaments, and scary santa interpretations got their place in the house.  This is especially true for the Christmas tree.  Felt, fun foam, and popsicle stick ornaments hung all over the tree, usually with our picture slapped in the middle.  One year, I had this weird obsession with making these beaded ornaments (they were hideous) and for some reason, I felt compelled to make like, 27 for my mom.  Those all made it on the tree.  Glitter was typically globbed on every part of every ornament I made (I've always loved bling, what can I saw?), and there are 800 ornaments that say "baby's first this, big sister 1992, baby's first loose tooth, Ryan loves Santa, blah blah blah."  And I have no doubt that my parents thought these little things were cute and and loved them at the time.  (I'm sure you can all tell, I don't have children.  I don't quite get the whole, "everything they do is so cute" thing.  I'm sure things will change when I have kids of my own.)  We were also fortunate/cursed to be forced into introduced to collecting Crayola ornaments.  My grandmother LOVES collecting things, especially ornaments, so that usually translates into her buying tons of ornaments for everyone else.  Two of her favorites that were sent to us every year: the Crayola collection and the White House ornaments.  I could not even count how many of these ornaments we have.  Combine that with 57 billion "#1 teacher" ornaments that were given to my mom, and well, you get a pretty crazy tree.  Ok, crazy was too nice of a word.  Jumbled, random, not pretty are all better options.  Now don't get me wrong.  Growing up, I thought our family tree was the most spectacular thing in the world.  It was beautiful, special, and seeing all my homemade glittery, pasta creations made me beam with pride.  But fast forward to now.  I'm 25, my brother is 17, and my parents are in a new phase.  Do we reeeeeally need to be surrounded by glittery macaroni and "baby's fourth Christmas?"

I tried to approach this topic with my parents a few years ago, and they freaked out.  They went on and on about how special our family is, what this tree means to us, blah blah.  I completely understood, because I love those ornaments too.  They're special not just because my brother and I made them, they were given as gifts, etc., but because we have so many memories of hanging them on the tree, opening presents around them, etc.  I wasn't advocating getting rid of these ornaments or not putting up them up; I would cry if that happened!  I just wanted to see us have two trees.  One for the fun foam photo ornaments and one for another, more cohesive "grown up tree."  A tree that reflects how beautiful the rest of the house is at Christmas.  (My mom really does a crazy good job with the rest of the house.)  My parents refused.  I'm not entirely sure what this was about, but I have a few guesses.  Change is scary in itself, but when it's with family and Christmas traditions, it's even scarier.  I also think my parents thought I was going to try to create this giant, formal, stuffy tree.  None of those words describe my parents or the home they've created.  Their house is very warm and comfortable, full of color and well worn antiques.  Very Country Living if you will.  I had no intention of creating something formal or stuffy, but it's there home, not mine, so I backed off.

This conversation kept on for the past two years.  I approached it again this year and got a similar response.  So I thought I'd start small with my mom and introduce some ribbon wrapped around and throughout the tree.  Her lips kind of pursed when I mentioned it, but I don't think she had the energy to argue that day, so she let me buy the ribbon.  (She rarely lets me pay for anything when I'm home, so I thought this was further proof of her resistance.)  I assured her that if she didn't like it, I would take it down, no questions asked.  When we got home that evening, my dad and brother were gone and my mom went into the kitchen to put away groceries, clean etc.  The tree was already up, but undecorated, so I told her I would get started on wrapping the ribbon before we put up all the macaroni, photo, Crayola, and White House ornaments.  Small steps, Allison, small steps.  As I wrapped the ribbon, I could feel my mom checking it out behind me.  No comments, no protesting.  All good so far.  After I finished wrapping the tree, I asked for opinion, and again reminded her, "If you don't like it, tell me, I'll take it down, no hurt feelings."  She was a little slow in her response, but said with what I think was 95% genuineness, "I like it, I really do.  I can't wait to see what it looks like with our ornaments."  (I'm pretty sure that other 5% was still a little resistant.)  But I'll take 95%, small victory for me!  Woo hoo!  She went back into the kitchen, and I seized my chance.

I furiously started hanging what I thought would look good.  I didn't care if she eventually said take it all down, I wanted to give her a chance to actually see the tree I thought she would love.  I knew if she just saw it, she would love it.  So I hurried while she worked in the kitchen.  I hung red berries, cream and red tin ornaments, red button ornaments, and cream and red plush felt hearts (professionally made felt ornaments, not Ryan and Allison hot glued felt ornaments.)  I found two strings of red wooden beads laying in a box and hung those as well.  My mom had some really beautiful red country ornaments that she bought in England, and I hung those too.  I added some elegance to balance out the country using both silver and red glitter globes (the grown up version of my glittery macaroni), and it tied in perfectly with the red and silver ribbon I used earlier.  I added some whimsy hanging candy canes that my mom had sprinkled in glass containers throughout the house and tied red and black checked ribbon on the ends of several branches.  It looked SO GOOD!  I cannot even express how beautiful it was.  I was actually kind of shocked, because I'd never done a tree like that and I wasn't using an inspiration picture or anything.  I just used what my mom already had laying around.  A few minutes later, I felt my mom standing in the living room.  I turned around to find her gazing at the tree.  I didn't even have to ask, I could tell by the look on her face, she loved it.  But because I'm nosy and wanted to hear, I asked, "Do you like it?  If you don't, I'll take it down, I don't mind."  With 100% genuineness this time, she said, "Allison, it's beautiful."  She went on and on and gushed about it, and of course, I processed to ask about and point out each little detail.  "Do you like this, do you like this?"  (I'm kind of needy when it comes to hearing positive things about me or my work.  My parents/husband/friends/boss/dog are all well aware of this.)  But I could tell she really really loved it, and so did I.

Isn't is pretty?  I l-o-v-e it.

Close up view of some of the red, country treasures that my mom already had.

But I hadn't forgotten about the fun foam, the photo ornaments, and the Crayola ornaments out in the garage.  I love those things, no matter how gaudy and ugly some of them are.  So the next morning, my mom went to Walmart and bought a cheap 4 foot tree.  We took is upstairs in the second living area, wrapped it with ribbon (she liked the ribbon wrapping so much, she wanted it done again), and hung all the special, childhood treasures on the tree.  As my brother and I finished hanging the ornaments, we both stepped back to admire the little tree and all the special memories that hung on the tree.  Seeing them so tightly packed together was pretty neat, and as my parents came upstairs, they both commented on how much they loved it.  It really was a precious little tree.

A little wacky, but oh so special.  I really do love every ornament on this tree.

Family photo central.

What a babe!  Lol, and now you allllll know I'm not a natural blonde :)

So, after several years, my mission was finally accomplished.  And though it might sound like this mission was selfish, it was really about the fact that I knew my mom would LOVE the two trees.  She spends so much time and effort on making their house "homey" and beautiful, I knew she would love a tree that was just that.  Her Facebook status the next day was further proof: "We finally did a grown up tree in the family room and it is AMAZING ! I use the term "we" because we said yes, but our AMAZING daughter did all the work. The tree looks like something out of a magazine :) Why didn't I give in to this earlier?" All good things happen in time, and I guess, Mom, this just took some extra time.  So here's to my parents for being open minded and patient with a little coercion and sneakiness, and to their new beautiful tree!  Ok fine, and to meeee, for making it so beautiful :)


niebest said...

I do love my tree and the love and care that you put it to it. But........ I don't get nearly as many chores done as I should since I often stop and stand, or sit, or lie down to admire our beautiful tree :) Thanks Alli

Patricia said...

That tree is gorgeous! I would have never thought of putting the ribbon around it like that. You're getting so crafty!

Taylor-made Wife said...

It looks awesome. I have such a tough time with our tree. I "try" to be creative, but then I freak out over clutter (yet it looks amazing on everyone elses tree). I also have a tough time with "everything kids do is perfect". My husband jokes that I will redo all of our kids crafts before I hang them in the house :)