My fondest childhood memories of Christmas started during elementary school years. My class would create amazing homemade decorations for the Christmas tree. In early years, these were simple paper chains. I can remember coming home and making my own chains for our Christmas tree at home. This simple craft of strips of brightly colored paper and a touch of glue would grow and grow, until they were long enough to circle the wonderful smelling pine Christmas tree.
Popcorn strings were another homemade decoration that was a joy to make. Using a needle and carefully poking it through the popcorn was a major challenge for a young child. I usually ended up with an upset stomach though. Somehow, I always managed to eat more popcorn than I put on the string.
In later years in school, snowflakes cut from pure white paper would also decorate the Christmas trees. Many were colored with crayon or paints, or simply dusted with glitter. I loved how the glitter of homemade decorations would reflect the lights on the Christmas tree.
My brother was five years older than myself, so I always envied him when it came to decorating the Christmas tree. He had the height and the parental trust to string the old electric lights around and around the Christmas tree. I always had to wait for him to get the lights on before I could add my own childish homemade decorations of strings and ornaments. He finally went off to college and I got my chance, I was finally allowed to string the lights myself. It was a mark of growing up that I still vividly call today.
The boxes of decorations from the basement were treasures my mom kept for each year. It was in here that I found some of those same homemade decorations I had created as a child and again used. I could clearly remember making each of them and it was like watching me mature through that box of Christmas tree ornaments.
My favorite thing for the Christmas tree was always the silver strands of tinsel. These wisps lengths of aluminum always seemed so delicate, more like a frosting over the top of the Christmas tree. My brother and I would carefully lay strand after strand until it was nearly impossible to see a single homemade decoration or even a pine needle. Just walking past the Christmas tree would be enough to send the strands dancing and moving in the light and they would almost come alive.
Christmas morning would find gaily wrapped boxes and packages of every shape and size. More than once, I had to wake my mom and dad up so we could open them, though my brother was usually ahead of me, sitting by the Christmas tree, shaking packages and trying to guess what was in them. He would sort the boxes to see if his stack was bigger or if my stack was.
I always thought the Christmas tree looked terribly lonely when all the packages were open and paper was scattered about the room. Taking the Christmas tree down would bring the end to another year and the end of a little more of my childhood innocence.
By the next December, I was again elated to make the next craft project at school. Christmas is definitely for the young and the young at heart. I think I will go track down my craft paper and maybe pop some popcorn. It is time to revisit the past and to relive those innocent Christmas tree memories.