I grew up during a time of silver, gold, and pink Christmas trees, none of which my father would have ever allowed in our house. Until I moved out, I only remember our trees being real, along with pine needles everywhere and our wood-burning stove drying out our tree even more (at least, according to my mom).
My dad was a quiet man, and I don’t ever remember him being strict, but there was something about a Christmas tree that brought out the side of him that wanted to make elves hide and Santa Claus himself to stop his happy ho-ho-ho…at least when it came to the Christmas Tree.
Looking back, my dad would have been perfectly content with a tree only strung with popcorn and cranberries, like the first tree my parents had the first year they were married. Then there was the story about my parents not being able to even get a tree, so they rounded up a huge tumbleweed, and decorated it, back when they lived in Alamogordo. I’m assuming popcorn was used then, too. Thankfully, that was before my time, and every year I looked forward to a Christmas tree chocked full of lights and tinsel (aka icicles). Especially the icicles.
Every year, there was always the debate of the color of the lights. I still remember the huge bulbs that we clipped onto each branch, and those were in different colors. But somewhere along the way, those were probably announced unsafe, and so we had the smaller lights. My mom preferred red, her favorite color, my dad always wanted blue or green, and I wanted all the colors. I’m pretty sure each of us got our way multiple times.
And my mom and I liked the tree’s lights to flash on and off, on and off, staccato-like, and my dad hated it. He always managed to make the flashing lights remain solid, year after year.
But the one thing I loved best about our tree, no matter what color the lights were, was the icicles. They were long, silvery, and caught every light on the tree. I guess back in the 70’s icicles were easy to find, and not too expensive, and my mom would buy a box or two. It was my job to place the icicles on the branches.
If my dad was around, he’d tell me to not put on very many. But I did it anyway. I also didn’t like hanging each one, string by string. It took too long and I suppose I figured half the fun was watching it glitter and glow, so I’d take handfuls and throw them onto the tree. The icicles landed randomly, and I thought letting the icicles land wherever was brilliant.
Until I was much older, I didn’t think about icicles sticking to the carpet or basically making a mess. Seeing icicles strewn about was perfectly normal.
Then…I had kids.
I’m pretty sure icicles were still popular when my kids were babies, but I noticed the icicles got in the way and maybe it was a choking hazard, so I stopped decorating with icicles. For years, I didn’t see icicles for sale and I pretty much forgot about them until a few years ago when my son made a comment about the icicles on A Christmas Story (you know, the Red Ryder BB Gun movie).
I was able to hunt down icicles but online. I couldn’t find them in the stores. But this year, I found them in a store and bought a couple of packages.
The memories of icicles came flooding back.
They are messy, they stick to everything, and I love it.
It’s funny how something like icicles can take me back to all those years ago. I still see my dad, making the tree lights stop flashing. I can hear logs popping in the fireplace, and my mom in the kitchen, making dinner.
And there I was, a handful of icicles in the air, launched and airborne.
We never know the memories we make until years later.
Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the memories. I’ll never forget.