Saturday, December 14, 2013

Grandma's Tree

Grandma's tree without the lights turned on

I have written before about my Grandma Skatzes and her love of Christmas. This year I heard a story about Grandma that gave me a little more insight into Grandma and Christmas.

One of my vivid Christmas memories is that no matter what the size, the Christmas tree in Grandma's house was always heavily hung with lights, ornaments, and tinsel. For several years in the 60s, her house tree was a small aluminum pom pom tree, so the shininess factor was even greater.

I always thought the brightness factor was because of my grandmother's very dim eyesight. I just assumed Grandma made her tree extra bright so she could see it better.

Maybe so. Maybe not.

My grandmother was born in 1893, long before electric Christmas light were readily available for home use. In those days, the Christmas trees were lit by candles in most homes. Candlelit trees must have been beautiful, but must have posed huge safety hazards as well.

When Grandma was a little girl, probably before the century turned, her family lit their annual tree with candles, just like everyone else. Grandma's mother, my great grandmother Strickler, was deathly afraid of fire. One Christmas, despite her diligence, the tree caught fire.

Great grandmother Strickler was not a very tall woman and she was terrified of fire. All the same, she picked up the burning tree, hurried to the door, and threw it out into the yard.

Great grandmother Strickler saved the house and her family from a fire that day. But she never allowed another Christmas tree, candles or no, in the house.

When my Aunt Ginger told me that story earlier this year, I stopped her. "Grandma never had another Christmas tree all the years she was growing up?"

We looked at each other and both reacted that same way. "So that was why Grandma always had a Christmas tree with every ornament and light she could fit on it."

We probably won't bring a tree into this house until just before Christmas, given Warren's performance schedule this month. We may get it on December 21, which would be fitting as that is Grandma's 120th birthday.

Whenever we get it, I will make sure it is ablaze with lights and shiny ornaments. Grandma would have wanted it that way.


see you there! said...

What a story! I can picture your Great Grandmother running out the door with a blazing tree. Glad you Grandmother got to have lots of bright sparkly trees when she had her own home.


Ellen said...

Beautiful memory, eloquently put. I so miss my grandmas as well.