My Christmas tree house
By Cathy Retzack
I feel this is our premier tree. It’s the first tree we ever decorated, featuring my rocking horse ornament collection. It has over 400 ornaments, purchased from all over the country. Included are ornaments from the Hallmark Keepsake Collector line and materials in pewter, wax, porcelain, brass, silver, tin, wood, and resin. One of the logos at Mt. Vernon uses a rocking horse as its signature. We have a porcelain replica of this horse on our tree. The crown represents the mane and tail of a horse, while the loopy bells represent sleigh bells. The tree skirt is reversible and was made by a friend. — All photos by Cathy Retzack
Christmas trees hold a special place in my heart. Maybe it was seeing the love a Christmas tree could bring when my Grandpa bought a tree for $1.00 Christmas morning and decorated it beautifully by himself before he had helped Grandma out of bed on Christmas morning. That tree seemed so special to me and it was so lovely! Maybe it was the way my mom mixed up a thick paste of Tide detergent and water and gently “frosted” each tip of the tree to make it look like a first snow had fallen on our tree Christmas Eve. Maybe it was the top of my mom’s tree put in a large cardboard box that she had wrapped in red paper and a gold bow to make it look like the tree was a big, giant present.
As I put up my 20+ trees, I’m reminded of these past trees and the special memories associated with them. I hope the creativity my family showed did not get wasted on me and that you enjoy looking at my “festival” for 2020.
We get several questions because of the sheer volume of lights, ornaments, branches, icicles, and such that go into decorating a tree. Many of our friends shake their heads. We hear comments like, “You must have a big house” or, “Where do you store all of these items?” or, “How many trees do you have this year?”
No, we don’t have a big house…we have lots of corners and windows. I also have all of my ornaments and trimmings stored in color or category bins marked and waiting for their turn to be on a tree.
I also must confess that I keep several trees up all year long in rooms that aren’t in the “normal” traffic flow of the house and are wonderful display vehicles for many collections of ornaments.
The trees range in sizes from Table Toppers to 7 feet. The lit trees have at least 200 lights on each. Many of the 6-ft. trees have over 250 ornaments. For purposes of this article, I will use the term “crown” as the tree top decoration. I also do a lot of thrift store shopping, so you really can stretch the dollar and still decorate beautifully.
1. Entering the house,
you are greeted with a Table Topper with clear and ice blue ornaments. This snowy little tree’s battery-operated lights cast a bluish tint on the tree. The tree skirt is made from a little girl’s skirt. The tree and all ornaments were thrift store “finds,” costing about $15.00 total.
2. Who doesn’t smile
at flamingos? The gracefulness of the bird is reflected in this tree. I also collect flamingos, so it’s an easy choice to do a flamingo tree. The pink lights highlight the bird’s color (the more shrimp they eat, the darker pink they are). The flamingo tree skirt was from a resale store and the pink feathery crown represents bird feathers. It is quite a fun tree, each flamingo having its own personality.
3. The other tree in our
Living Room is a dog tree. Many ornaments are of our golden Cocker Spaniel that passed in January 2019. We have since adopted a Boykin Spaniel and slowly he is appearing in ornaments as well. There are plenty of dog bones, dog dishes, and fire hydrants to keep any dog happy. It also has small trees which we know dogs adore. The crown is made of dog collar picks.
4. One of the newer trees
to go up this year is an 2-ft. Everbrite Aluminum tree made in Manitowoc, purchased at an antique store. It is decorated in red, green, with white ornaments, a Santa hat on top, and green tinsel. There are no lights, as it’s naturally shiny.
5. A true collector’s tree
is the Coca Cola tree. The image that we recognize as Santa Claus was used in Coca Cola ads. How nostalgic is that! Some early Coke ornaments were called Bottling Works ornaments and featured the Sprite characters. Later the ornaments had the polar bears, and the polar bear/penguin series. The crown is designed to look like the spritz from opening a Coke. The reversible skirt is a trademark Coca Cola item.
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