The Christmas Twig
Most people who celebrate Christmas enjoy searching for the perfect tree, getting it home and decorating the bejeezus out of it, but in my dad’s house, things were a little different.
While we still celebrated Christmas, my dad was definitely not a traditionalist. He was a bit of a “tree hugger” type, and the idea of cutting down a tree just to celebrate a holiday didn’t sit well with him. Still, he had two young daughters who expected to decorate something for Christmas, so he compromised.
Every year instead of going out to buy a Christmas tree, we’d go out in search of the perfect Christmas twig.
We’d hike into the woods — one of my dad’s favorite places to be — and search for a fallen branch that would be big enough to hold ornaments but not too big to fit in a corner of the living room. It had to be gnarled enough to add some visual interest since it had no leaves or needles, and the more twisted the branches, the better they were for hanging things on them.
Once we’d selected the right branch for our purposes, we’d troop back to the house and set it up in a little bucket with rocks in it to keep it standing upright. Then it was time to make the decorations.
My dad had a few ornaments, but mostly, we’d make popcorn and paper chains, sneaking bites of the popcorn the whole time. I’m guessing more ended up in my stomach than on the branch, but it was fun.
By the time we’d finished, the Christmas twig ended up looking pretty festive.
It wasn’t quite the same as having a regular Christmas tree, but we had just as much fun picking it out and decorating it together. Plus, we always had a regular tree at my mom’s house, so we got to decorate twice, which was really the fun part anyway.
This Christmas will be my second since my dad passed away last year.
I hadn’t thought about the Christmas twig in a long time, but my sister reminded me of it when she decided to resurrect the tradition in her own home. Even though we both put up regular Christmas trees (I figure that since the trees we buy are grown on farms specifically for that purpose, I’m not really harming nature too much), she decided to add a Christmas twig to her decorations this year in memory of our dad.
I’ll be headed up to her home in Virginia for Christmas this year, and I’m excited to see the Christmas twig in all its glory and relive the memories it brings me of good times with my father.