|The icicles had to be placed just right|
Some of my friends had those new sparkling aluminum tree with the color wheel that spun around. Their ornaments were the fancy, Styrofoam ones wrapped in colored silk thread. Not us, we had old fashioned glass ornaments, some 10, 15, or 20 years old. There were delicate glass strawberries , enormous red balls, beautifully painted shapes that mirrored the colored lights. We had some very old ones from memere’s. I especially remember a little cloth Santa that had its place on the tree. The icicles. We had dozens of these hard plastic white icicles that were placed ever so gingerly on the tips of the branches. Then came the tinsel. They don’t even sell tinsel any more. I think it was one of the causes of global warming. My mother bought boxes of it. I would throw gobs of it at the tree. In frustration my mother would tell me to leave as she went about adding her piece de resistance. Every individual strand had to be placed just right. In my memory I can see it now the entire tree shimmering and shining, the tinsel making the tree look like an ice glazed wonder. The star we used was another ancient piece dating from WWII period. It was white with a slight outline in red. When a bulb was inserted in the base the glow was soft and tranquil and set the perfect image of peace on earth, goodwill towards men. All of that was so until the cat ate a piece of tinsel and we had to pull it out of her rear, or until my mother would topple into the tree as she was trying to perfect her already perfect tree.
While the tree was the focus of our decorating frenzy there were other additions to our attempts of making our Christmas Wonderland. Probably the first sign of the season to appear would be the wreath on the door. Today’s Martha Stewart hyper stylized self important frou frou wreaths paled in comparison by what hung on the doors along
Broadway Street . There were the white tissue paper wreaths that were made from bent coat hangers with dozens of tiny torn pieces of tissue wrapped around the form. The good Sisters at
It seemed almost every family put electric candles in the windows. The meaning of this ancient sign of welcome may have been unknown to the residents of the
Stamps must have been far cheaper in that era because the Christmas card was a major decorating item in that period. The mailman often made two trips to the mailboxes and even worked on the Sunday before Christmas. Lord knows who sent all those cards, but we received dozens if not many dozens of Christmas cards. I had no idea who many of the cards were sent by. They were cousins of cousins and then there was the frantic, “Oh my God I didn’t send one to them!!!” This was followed by a mad dash to the mail box in front of Dostaler’s Market. With tape in hand my sister and I would line every door jamb with the season’s greetings. “Be sure the horizontal cards were along the top and the verticals went along the side.” It was a contest with my cousins who had the most cards hanging.
In between the living room and the “good” room was always displayed the red paper tissue folded bell. These were inexpensive items that were picked up easily at the local Woolworth’s, Kressge’s, or Green’s. Other items of décor included an illuminated Santa with a bubble light in his hand. Again, I have no recollection where the item came from or why poor Santa carried a bubbling light bulb in his hand but the Santa was used as a night light on the kitchen table during the season. My sister had the Frosty the Snowman light. With a blue bulb inserted in the back it was just like a real snowman, that in your dreams may come alive and march through the house. I never liked that figure. My mother also bought 4 Santa Claus mugs from Stuart’s Department Store on
Market Street . As the years passed the poor Santas lost their paint until finally he looked like a victim of the plague. Advent calendars were opened daily revealing little pictures as the big day approached. Every now and then my mother would one that when the window was opened there was a Bible verse. Why would someone put Bible verses on Advent calendars? The meaning was lost on an 8 year old boy.