It was an all day affair that Chester and I enjoyed immensely.
Putting up the Christmas tree was a big ordeal at my house growing up. My dad would bring in the boxes from the garage and then my mother and I would spend all evening setting up the tree, stringing the lights and then my favorite part, placing the ornaments.
I hated waiting while she laid out each string of lights to see if they worked. Back in those days you had colored bulbs that screwed into individual sockets and you had to buy new bulbs for the ones that burnt out. Aluminum reflectors had to be placed behind each bulb to make it shine even brighter.
And it took forever.
Finally it would be time to start opening the boxes of ornaments. They were all old, from the forties and fifties, except for our growing new collection of ornaments we bought on vacation. We had quite a conglomeration of ornaments on our tree, including any ornament I made at school, along with gold tinsel garland and hard plastic icicles. My mom had kept a small flat red and white box of Lucite icicles made when materials were scarce during World War II. They didn’t even have metal hangers, just a plain piece of string. But if you hung it directly in front of one of the light bulbs, it just glistened.
It was cardboard and had ceramic figurines of Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, barn animals and a manger with Baby Jesus inside. Hay was strategically glued on the floor and the sides of the barn to make it more authentic.
Placing that scene in front of the tree, I had no idea how much that baby would come to mean to me.
Lots of times he got crowded out by all the other stuff under the tree.
But somehow I got that he was far more important.