Monday, December 19, 2011


Countdown to Christmas 6 days

Whatever happened to tinsel?

When I was very little, my grandparents always had tinsel on their tree. Tinsel was a BIG DEAL back then. When I was old enough to talk, I know I started asking for tinsel on the tree. Before I could talk, I'm pretty certain I tried to eat tinsel off the tree. It's so pretty. It's so SHINY!

Once we were old enough to help decorate the tree, we kids always asked if we could tinsel the tree. It was a big request because inevitably the tinsel is going to wind up ALL OVER THE HOUSE. At least that's what my mom would say, "No, I don't want tinsel on the tree this year. Why? Because it winds up ALL OVER THE HOUSE. Are you the one that's going to vacuum? Are you the one that is going to get it out the heat vents? Are you going to clean up the cat vomit after he eats all that tinsel?"

To which we all replied Yes! Yes! Yes! But really meant, "Good luck catching me in 3 days to actually do any of that."

And so after hours of pleading, and waiting for my dad to go to the Elk's club (he was never going to give in), we would get our tinsel wish.

My brother was in charge of the top most part of the tree because he was tallest. My sister got the middle, and I got the bottom.

Each tinsel strand must be picked up singly and draped one by tedious one on each branch to emulate the look of icicles. One, by one. One by one. One by one. One, by one. One by one. One by one. One, by one. One by one. One by one. One, by one. (sigh) One by one. One by one. One, by one. (this is BORING) One by one. One by one. One, by one. One by one. (HEAVY sigh) One by one. One, by one. One by one. Two by two. One, by one. Three by three. One by one....

Decorating the bottom of a tree isn't very glamorous. I wanted to decorate the top and middle where my work would be featured. But i was too short. And I wasn't allowed to get up on the ladder. But you know, there is a way to get your handiwork seen by the big people. Throw your tinsel. Grab a good handful and just chuck it at the top of the tree. If you're on the opposite side of the tree, no one will know, until they come around.

Mom! Jimmy's throwing tinsel!
Am not!
So are! Look at this branch!
Gary did it.
Did not!
Stop throwing the tinsel!
Stop telling me what to do!

Okay, I see now why my mom didn't want tinsel on the tree. She would have to come in and mediate the tinsel placement. Again, it's a tedious process and even my mother would start to do the two by three strands after an hour or two. At about 3 hours, the tree is so covered in tinsel you can't see the ornaments and a Charlie Brown Christmas special is on the TV. We all give up and finally sit down.

The tinsel (back in the day) was lead based. It was heavy and would easily break. The lights were most often C7 bulbs that got really hot and the lead based tinsel would melt onto the bulbs giving off a really good hot lead fire smell.

An hour later my dad would come home and say, "You just couldn't stop yourselves, could you? You can't even see the ornaments through all that garbage." Then he'd sit down in the living room, pause, and say, "Sure looks pretty doesn't it though?"


Rachel V. Olivier said...

LOL! Yeah, I never did go for tinsel, though. I admit. Even as a kid I just thought of all the work it would take to put it up. I was a garland kinda gal. Now, I don't like the tinsel-y garland. But I like ribbons and interesting garlands.

Jim said...

You know, Lyle got his flocked tree a couple of years, maybe it's time for me to bring tinsel back?

Anonymous said...

I HATE tinsel. I have nightmares about tinsel. You would think someone with OCD would love tinsel! No! I can remember attempting to put tinsel on the tree and my mom going behind me and fixing it because I clumped too many strands together. Tinsel is a bad Christmas memory.....