Friday, December 23, 2011

A Tour of the Vintage Tree

A year or two ago, after our Back-Home-Christmas visit, my mom sent me back to Texas with a tub of holiday stuff. Included: a vintage aluminum Christmas tree she'd bought at a yard sale, and my grandmother's ornaments.

I don't remember a lot about decorating for last Christmas - it just seems like we got overwhelmed and put a lot of our stuff back in the garage. At that time, the adoption was still not 100% certain. I think the strain dampened our motivation to fill the house with cheer. This year, we've been all about making sure AH has a special first Christmas celebration as a member of our family. We pulled out all the stuff for 2011, including the aluminum tree and my grandmom's ornaments.

And I'm so glad we did. It has created a festive feeling in our home at a time when there's some heavy-heartedness.

I have to say that setting up the vintage tree is one of my top favorite memories of this Christmas season, though. After we did the bulk of the "big" decorating, such as the real tree and lights in the windows (thank you Mr. Christmas Cheer, BB!), there was a lot of this and that sitting around in tubs and boxes.

One night while BB was away and the children were already in bed, I started picking through the tub from my mom. We'd started putting branches into the aluminum tree, so I finished that, in the quiet all by myself. Then, I began looking through the ornaments. Ah, memory lane, to say the least.

I carried a few ornaments at a time from the kitchen to the table in what I guess you'd call our formal dining room, though of course we do nothing akin to formal dining, ever. And, the room is devoid of furniture, save that table. Anyway, it is the first room you see as you enter our home. Seemed like it would be fun to have a sparkly tree there. It's kind of stepping out for me, this having more than one tree!

As I examined the ornaments and put hooks on them, I recalled all the Christmases when I went over to my Grandmom's little two-bedroom house Back Home and decorated it for her. I don't know how it became tradition, but from a rather young age, definitely before I was a teenager, she let me set a ladder up, pull her stuff from the attic, then make executive decisions on what would go where that year.

It was a sweet time, and made me feel really special and important, of course.

All the ornaments in these close-ups were hers. She kept them in their original, ancient, ratty old boxes. They are Shiny Brite ornaments from the 1930's and 40's. It was always fun to make the tree pretty with them and hear her approve of my choices.

I am so glad mom gave me these things. And I'm grateful to Jesus for the special, quiet moments I had assembling this little tree and enjoying happy memories from times with Grandmom. It was truly a delight this Christmas season.

Seeing the silver tree with its sweet old ornaments each day has made me smile. When I had finished decorating it there on the dining room table, I decided the whole set up was not safe. There are a dozen busy, happy, exploring, energetic hands in this house, you know, and things happen. So I dragged that big ole heavy table to a corner, away from its usual central spot.

And then, little Providences...because what's better than a vintage silver aluminum tree, all twinkling with colorful, aged ornaments? Well, what's better is when all that happy sparkle sits in the one downstairs location that gets an hour or two of strong morning sunlight.

These photos are from my second or third time of passing the tree during sunshine-time. Yesterday, I finally figured out the right angle and such to get most of them in good light for pictures. Sigh. What a satisfying and happy thing. The sun just makes the whole thing pop, for lack of a better description.

We've been without my Grandmom for four years now. I miss her, but am glad for the warm Christmas memories we made together, and for the ways she built me up by letting me help like she did. Note to self: build my own babies up the same way. 

My second favorite memory so far this year was just night before last, wrapping the girls' gifts with BB while we watched It's a Wonderful Life, and being reminded of just how wonderful life really is, with all its God-ordained joys and bumps and bruises and happy surprises and confusion. On top of the sweet time with BB, when I went out to unplug our Christmas lights, there were gifts on our front porch!

One of my wonderful young friends had stopped by and secretly left some very thoughtful goodies. A joy to my heart! I went to bed thankful and encouraged, and I'm grateful to God for His tender mercies and kindness.

This year, as we celebrate Advent, I think I am most aware of Jesus' humility and obedience. I am thankful for all He gave up to come here and live among sinful mankind. I marvel at His submission to God's plan, at His unselfishness, at all He took for me - the pain, the accusations, betrayal, abandonment, abuse, and death - for me, the punishment I deserve. He is so good.

We are still calling on Him for His mercy, help, and favor as we seek to focus our family toward a more Christ-centered, orderly family life. He is faithful. It's been a tough year in a lot of ways and I've struggled with negative emotions and thoughts about my mothering and our family life in the past months. But again, Jesus is my Answer. This week, as I did my Esther Bible study (a Beth Moore study I'm doing with Mrs. M), God gave me this immensely encouraging quote, drawn from a discussion on perfectionism:

"...sometimes just surviving certain tasks without falling apart is our best and in those times God is not ashamed of our performance. He's proud of us for fighting overwhelming human emotions to do His will. God isn't interested in our stellar performance, but in our hearts. He loves our willingness and obedience despite our circumstances." -Beth Moore

The quote makes me think of this scripture:

Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. Hebrews 2:11

(How amazing is that? I can't quite take that in...not ashamed to call me His own sibling?!)

A Merry, Merry Christmas to you all! God bless you in the coming year with the joy of more intimate fellowship with Himself...with a growing faith and hunger for Him and His Word.


  1. Beth this blessed my heart. I remember the years of those old ornaments and the aluminum trees. Your memories of your grandmother are so touching.

    Most of all I was blessed by your ending paragraph about our wonderful Savior.

    Thank you for that wonderful post which is quite amazing for a busy young woman such as yourself.

  2. So very beautiful, my friend, just as you are. There is so much mercy... so many beautiful moments and memories... all gifts from Him.

    I love the Beth Moore quote. So much of what I've been learning this December has been about giving up my perfect expectations and, at times just surviving. But, most importantly listening with humility and doing what my Father tells me to do... just as Jesus did.

    {We're in the market for an old, aluminum tree... perhaps we'll find one on ebay after Christmas!}

  3. I love your glitzy tree! and I love it even more when you tell the story behind it, both yours as a woman and as a child. Merry Christmas, dear friend!

  4. I've been meaning to say a big thanks for the kind comments. It's so fun to read them and to connect in this space.

    A happy new year to all!

  5. That quote by Beth Moore...I can't tell you what a blessing that is to read right this very moment! I'm so thankful you shared that! Thanks for
    encouraging me!

  6. What a beautiful post!!! Great memories to cherish forever!