Christmas trees were holy when I was a child. The tree was a soft glow in a dark house. I spent hours sitting on the sofa in the dark, staring at the tree in front of the tall narrow window in the den.
I washed the window inside and out before the tree came home. Windex froze and hung midair, a cold blue bloom in front the glass pane. The chemical smell snapped its fingers in the winter air. The tree tottered on an uneven base in the den and was tied with fishing wire to the wood paneled wall.
The tree dropped its limbs in the overnight heat. He yelled for hours as they wrapped the tree with strings of lights, and we pulled ornaments from softened tissue paper and laid them to the side. My favorite was a box of small blown glass ornaments. Each ornament had a deep dimple on one side. The glass was pulled into a crimped funnel with swirling edges outlined in glitter. The ornaments were fragile and painted like jewels. I thought they were valuable. Each year, one of them laid broken in the box when I lifted the lid. The small flakes of silver and purple glass looked cheap.
We each had a baby ball. Mine was wrapped in thin threads that looked like satin. 1977. A banner of maroon ribbons, and a crawling baby with her bottom lifted in the air.
We all had an angel pressed from a thin plate of gold. Our names were written along the bottom in cursive. The edges of the ornaments were sharp.
An ivory plastic angel crowned the tree. She was too big and her wings were extravagant. A white light stuck in her base lit her up.
White and colored lights blinked and ran races around the tree. The patterns were wild and willy nilly. Some strings ran clockwise. Others counter clockwise. Some blinked quickly, others slowly. Large opaque bulbs sat in foil flower petals. Color glowed in small soft clouds in the boughs of pine.
Silver garland sagged in loops around the tree. Thin strands of tinsel caught the light and glowed metallic and black. It stuck to my clothes and I pulled off long strands from my tights and winter coat when I got to school.