Saturday, December 01, 2012

Advent Calendar – December 1, 2012

Since I’m still a relative newbie at genealogy blogging (I started this August), this is the first time I participate in Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2012. It's a great way to reminisce about Christmas and share stories between now and December 24. The first prompt is for today, December 1, 2012.

The Christmas Tree

Did you have a real tree or was it artificial? How big was the tree? Who decorated the tree? What types of Christmas trees did your ancestors have?

When I was very little, my parents had real Christmas trees. By the time I was about 5 or 6, though, they had switched to an artificial tree, about 4-5’ tall, with straight branches. I don’t think it was the aluminum kind, but it was green, set up quickly and easily, and its needles never shed. Even though it was a fake tree, I remember liking it very much. We used it for a few years, and then Mom bought another artificial tree, but this second one was of a good height (6’, at least) and the branches were more natural looking.

Dad put up the tree (when it was a real one) and Mom decorated it. There were pretty, coloured glass ornaments (Mom bought these through the Sears or Eaton’s catalogues), lots of tinsel icicles (we loved tinsel), candy canes, gold and silver garlands, and those big old-fashioned coloured lights (so different from the mini lights we use today). Some years we had a multi-light star-shaped topper, while other years we preferred a tree-top angel holding a candle.

Yvonne Belair Christmas 1963
Yvonne, Christmas 1963.

The youngest one in our family had the privilege of setting up the crèche (Nativity set) at the base of the tree. My younger sister didn’t always do it, so I often got the chance to place the papier-mâché characters in and around the wooden manger with its bits of (fake) hay. There was the angel positioned on the edge of the roof overlooking the scene, with the ox and the donkey standing by, the Magi (the three wise men in their colourful tunics) slightly off to the side, the shepherd and his little sheep, and best of all, in the centre, Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus.

I don’t remember what type of tree my paternal grandparents had, but it was probably a real tree. My Mom’s family was very poor for most of her childhood, so a tree was a rare occurrence.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.


  1. Oh you are reaching back into my childhood days- and yes my children are continuing the treasures I too had back then. Advent Calendar every December, we always lit the Advent Candles every Sunday until Christmas, St. Nicholas makes his secret stops on the eve of the sixth, and we always had a real live tree, even all of our other relative. Always!

    1. Holiday tradtions are wonderful. We used to light Advent candles when our son was young, and give him a little pre-Christmas gift on December 6th (especially since he was named Nicholas). Thanks for commenting, Karen!