Pipe Cleaners over Pearls

Christmas Ornaments Made by Children on Tree

Today my husband, Rob, and I celebrate our wedding anniversary, and in our house this is the day that I put up the Christmas tree. Now that it’s shinning brightly in our window, I’m rolling out a little piece I wrote back in 2004 around this time. I hope you enjoy it.

“Pipe Cleaners over Pearls”

As I fumble with boxes, I feel weighed down by an overload of tasks. Putting up the tree is supposed to be one of those cherished events of the season. I look upon it as a chore. Before I married my husband, I had visions of trudging through snow with axe in hand, selecting the perfect tree, chopping it down ourselves, and tying it to the roof of our car, just like in the movies. I had never had a live tree growing up, so I was anticipating the start of a new tradition.

We tied the knot on December 7, and on December 8, I lost my first argument. We were “investing in” an artificial tree. Oh, joy – a lesson in submissiveness. Isn’t marriage grand? This year I am smart and wear latex gloves as I assemble the paltry imitation, thus saving myself dozens of scratches. Row by row, I insert color-coded branches into the metal pole (a poor excuse for a trunk). A spider crawls out of the box.

After an hour of shaping, it’s back to the basement to recover the ornaments. As I pull one of the cardboard boxes off the shelf, I open a corner to make sure it’s the right one. I peer inside and find the dazzling pink jewels and glistening balls, strands of pink beads, and bows tied from extravagant ribbon. I remember purchasing the trimmings for our second Christmas together. Hey, if I’m stuck with this dumb tree that he picked, I’m choosing the theme. With miniature pink lights, it became a breathtaking display – the perfect Victorian Christmas tree.

Nope, it’s the wrong box. I hoist it back up on the shelf and pull down the one next to it. I take off the lid and begin to chuckle as my eyes cross over the mish-mash of gaudy artwork. Red and green felt, yarn, pipe cleaners, glitter and pom-poms have graced that tree for a decade now, and each year our precious children add to the collection. The elaborate store-bought star that once was the topper, has since been replaced by an angel with wings traced from young hands.

Those little hands, so eager to help, clap as I carefully set the box down on the living room floor. My part is finished. The kids dive right in and take over. I retire to the sofa and delight in the activity. Our oldest (and tallest) takes the ornaments that were inappropriately hung from the bottom branches and redistributes them when the others aren’t looking. They all chatter about which ones are their favorites as their father and I smile and nod. I turn to him and wipe a cookie crumb from his lip.

Although the tree may be faux, the sentiments are not. The ornaments that now adorn our tree have a luster all their own. They are priceless creations tinged with tender emotion, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

2 thoughts on “Pipe Cleaners over Pearls

  1. All the years I lived on my own, I did themes…. now I cant wait to pull out the Jewish Star that Jackson made at daycare 3 years ago..we use that as the tree topper… There are picture ornaments, toilet paper roll santas, and clothes pin reindeer…all my favorites now….

  2. Happy Belated Anniversary Chris & Rob. I loved this story. I vaguely remember your Victorian tree – it was beautiful (you definitely have the creative, artistic genes). But you just can’t beat homemade ornaments by the kids. I’m now enjoying those crafted by my grandchildren. That’s what it’s all about.

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