Cheryl St.John’s Trip Down Christmas Tree Lane

1800s tree and family

I  don’t know what it is about Christmas trees that I love, but I can’t get enough of them. The tree is the best part of Christmas decorating. To read a history of Christmas trees and see photos of my Victorian tree,

CLICK HERE for last year’s blog on the subject.

This year I’m simply going to take you on a stroll down memory lane. Well, we can’t remember back as far as these early photos, but we can sure imagine being there. That’s what we do after all: Put ourselves inn another place and sometimes another time and imagine what it would be like.

1896 gifts on treeWhen I think about early trees, I think of stories like Laura Ingalls Wilder and the settlers who strung popcorn and berries and made paper chains to have something to out on the trees.

Some people had beautiful glass ornaments they brought to America from other countries, but the common folk usually made do with what they had around the house or what they could make with feathers and scraps of fabric and lace and flour and water paste.

It was once the custom to place the gifts on the tree, as seen in the photo on the right. Can’t see that being practical unless the gifts were mittens and handmade items. Today Guitar Hero would never fit on a tree, and the branches sure wouldn’t hold a portable DVD player.

feather-treeI never had a fondness for tinsel. It was often charged with static and clung to clothes and hands and was forever on the carpet and tangled in the vacuum. But the kids loved it, so we often draped all the branches ever so carefully and watched it sparkle.

I inherited a few vintage cardboard and glitter houses that were my grandmother’s as well as a plastic Santa and sleigh. Plastic was a new invention when she bought the set! She had a whole village with bottle brush trees and cotton snow. I think I must have inherited my love of Christmas décor from her. I sure came by the collecting bug naturally too.

My grandmother had an aluminum tree with a color wheel. Can’t land one of those cheap any more. They are hard to find and expensive when you do find one.

So many times we think the things we use were recent inventions, but just look at the photo below with all the dolls and see one of the first artificial trees! And it’s lit with candles. What a fire hazard. There were also feather trees.

I’m holding my annual Great Christmas Tree Tour on my blog and have enjoyed all the trees readers and authors have shared. It’s always so much fun to see how differently people decorate.

Christmas trees are like snowflakes: No two are ever alike.

colored from lifepink 50s feather tree

white tree

alum treeadvertisesmentfake tree

cardboard villagevillage gypsum compo

I want to take this opportunity to remind you that HER COLORADO MAN is in stores this month. I learned that the warehouses have plenty in stock, so if you don’t find a copy, ask for it at your local bookseller and they will order a copy for you.

I have my shopping finished and my Christmas tree is decorated. How about you?

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Have You Been Kissed Under The Mistletoe?

Janet-Tronstad This is Janet Tronstad and I’m very pleased to visit with you here in P & P. Before I mention my latest Christmas book, I just have to ask though.  Have any of you ever been kissed under one of those big kissing balls? The ones the Victorians used to make of mistletoe and hang up for their parties?

My latest novella is in a book entitled ‘Mistletoe Courtship’ and I realize I don’t even know anyone who has seen one of those kissing balls. I’m hoping that some of you have though. The mistletoe I usually see at Christmas is one of those small pressed-looking twigs that you buy in the plastic wrapper. I’m sure the Victorians would be appalled.  

From what I’ve read, they took their mistletoe seriously.  I didn’t realize that if you went un-kissed when you were standing under a kissing ball (male or female) it was supposed to mean you would never get married. Talk about pressure. I’m sure that was reason enough to line up. mistletoecourtship

In our culture, it seems to me that we save The Big Kiss for New Year’s Eve.  What’s your take on it?  Do you think mistletoe is still popular? Do any of you have any hanging in your house as we speak?  Do you plan to put some up this year?  And – for the big question – have you ever been trapped under some mistletoe with someone who wanted to kiss you and you’d rather not kiss them back? What’d you do?

I’ll be happy to send a copy of ‘Mistletoe Courtship’ to one of the people who post today so leave a comment if you can.