Oh Tannenbaum

by Anne Bennett on December 14, 2010

Mom, you're HOW old? I didn't know humans lived that long!

I was born shortly after 7 AM on December 15, 1950. My mother, whose nickname was Minerva, later told me that she decorated our Christmas tree the night before in anticipation of my arrival.

Back then women did most, if not all, of the domestic chores, which meant that she had to go out and find a good tree, haul it home and install it into our revolving, musical tree stand.

I can just imagine Minerva doing this nine months pregnant. Really. She had three boys. Nothing phased her, especially not a dead tree.

No tiny white lights for Minerva. She preferred old-fashioned multi-colored lights for our tree.

It became a tradition in our house to have the tree up and decorated on December 14, which seems late by 21st century standards when Christmas decorations come out right after Halloween. But back then, by my estimation it was the perfect time.

When I was old enough to accompany her (the boys had no interest in this task), Minerva and I scurried around to Christmas tree lots and searched through the densely packed trees for the perfect 8-foot tall specimen.  It had to be symmetrical because it would turn 360 degrees on our revolving stand. She’d ask the man to pull out trees and twirl them around so that she could see them from all sides. We were high-maintenance customers.

Most often she’d have to compromise for an almost-perfect tree, and under her direction Alvin, our gardener, would drill holes into the sparse spaces and glue extra branches. Result? Perfect looking tree. She was a stickler for that.

The large cardboard box that held our ornaments was kept high on a shelf in the hall closet. Each December when she took it down and opened it I could smell the pine scent from last year’s tree, a poignant reminder of how quickly the year had passed. But the  hustle-and-bustle meant that my birthday was imminent, and that was all that mattered to me.

Ah, to be young and excited about one’s birthday.

Tomorrow I will be 60 years old. The light at the end of the tunnel approaches, and I am on a bullet train.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie December 14, 2010 at 10:12 am

Anne- I hope you have a very happy birthday. You and your website are an inspiration to me. Happy Birthday! 🙂

Marguerite December 14, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Ok, now that has to be the cutest picture of Julia, what a doll. Julia is thinking, wow I have the youngest looking mom. Love you, have a happy birthday, party like you are 59.

Amy December 14, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Anne, I wish you the best birthday ever. Go out and do something crazy!!!

Amy December 15, 2010 at 8:37 am

Happy Birthday Anne!!

Marie December 15, 2010 at 11:30 am

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANNE!!!! Hope you have a great day!!! See you Saturday!

Ann Appleyard December 21, 2010 at 3:27 am

Happy Belated Birthday Anne! I hope that this year will be a great one for you with many more to come!

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