The Ghosts Of Christmas Trees Past

Christmas trees are quintessentially Christmas! Reminisce with me and get lots of ideas and tips for decorating your Christmas tree.

I love almost everything about Christmas trees! I love them in almost any size or shape and no matter what they are made of! I even collect Christmas trees! Big, tall, small, skinny, rotund, silver, white, green, and more! Today I’m reminiscing about spectacular Christmas trees!

I have a HUGE love for Christmas trees. No wonder! Many of my best Christmas memories revolve around them!

And speaking about revolving…


Growing up our family had its share of Christmas trees. I remember when I was very very young our family had a silver aluminum tinsel-like tree on a stand that revolved. It had a lighted “color wheel” that beamed out different colored lights that reflected off the shiny branches of the tree. Red, blue, green, and yellow as I recall.

And yes, that was a l-o-n-g time ago! Raise your hand if you can remember these shiny trees? I hear you giggling!

I was eight when my Daddy was deployed (Air Force) to Japan. So we lived with my grandmother that Christmas. My Nani had a real tree. We put shiny bright ornaments on it. The same ones my mother had also put on the trees of her childhood.


And Nani had tinsel!

Nani’s tinsel was, to me, like fairy dust or the stars unicorns shoot out of their horns.

Nani saved her tinsel from year to year like she saved everything else, so it must have been decades old!

It was sort of crinkly and metallic and so pretty. This tinsel had a bit of heft to it too. It was my favorite thing to put on the tree!

I wish I had that tinsel today!

On Nani’s tree, there were strings of lights with big colorful bulbs! As a child, I used to think the colorful Christmas tree looked so happy!

As I was growing up we had a long string of real trees. And we had tinsel too!

But this tinsel was more like silver plastic. You could actually stretch it. I LOVED throwing handfuls of it at the tree, but Mom was a tree decorating perfectionist so we could only put tinsel on the tree one strand at a time.

We had the prettiest trees growing up! My mother could (and still can) decorate a beautiful tree.


One of my favorite Christmas things to do was to lie on the floor and stick my head under the tree. Oh, the beauty of all those little colored lights. I bet you did not know that trees look especially pretty when looking up their trunks!

When I dated Bobby I helped him decorate a tree in his apartment. I discovered how fun it was to decorate a tree with someone you are in love with!


That tree taught me a few things.

Do you know that if you leave a tree up long enough all the needles will fall off in a perfect circle around the bare frame of the tree? A perfect circle!

I also discovered that Bobby can totally ignore anything he does not want to deal with!

The week after Easter that year I told Bobby that his tree was a major fire hazard and I would not be dating him any longer. At least not until he got rid of the tree.

He immediately threw the tree out of the window of his third-story apartment building. I found that shocking and a bit romantic! LOL!

The first year Bobby and I were married we chopped down a tree and it was so huge that we could not fit it into the living room. So we sawed off the bottom of the tree and moved all the furniture out of our dining room to make room for it.

Funny, it did not look that big in the field at the Christmas tree farm!

I made a lot of garlands and wreaths that year as I channeled Martha Stewart.


And every year until our children moved out of the house and were married we chopped down our Christmas trees together. Oh, what memories we made!

My favorite years were when it snowed while we chopped down the tree. It was so magical we could have been in a Hallmark movie!

When our children were little only the bottom third of the tree would be decorated! They were not big enough to reach any higher. I loved seeing their handiwork so much we left the top of the tree bare!

One Christmas I was semi lamenting to Bobby that although I loved the tree our children decorated there was a place in me that longed for a “designer tree”.

So, one day Bobby came home with a gorgeous fake tree for me to decorate.

Oh, how I loved decorating that tree. Every year we would have a family tree and one decorated by me.

You know when I think about our Christmases it’s not my designer tree I think about. It’s always our sweet family tree filled with meaningful ornaments we collected. And the best tree of all was the tree that was bare at the top!

One year our cat climbed up in the tree and knocked it clean over. It went crashing down along with the cat and ornaments went flying everywhere!

I LOVED the look on our children’s faces as they saw our Christmas tree sprawled all over our family room floor. Priceless! Isn’t it funny how small tragedies eventually become humorous family stories?


Then there were about 15 years I had a skinny tree just off our kitchen in our breakfast nook. I loved to decorate it with cookies and other foodstuffs. Dried oranges are so on-trend right now. I guess I was way ahead of the trend. I had them on my skinny tree!

My favorite ornaments for this tree were big homemade gingerbread men that I accented with white puffy paint. So much easier than royal icing since we were not going to eat them.

I tied them to the tree with red and white striped ribbons.

Each Christmas I hung up “my boys”.

One Christmas I noticed that a leg had fallen off one of the gingerbread men. Unusual because they were rock hard!

A few days later a couple of the boys were missing limbs. A leg here and an arm there. And one of the gingerbread men was missing the lower half of his body.

I gathered my kids and my sister’s child Kelley together and asked them if they had been snacking on the gingerbread men. Everyone said, “not me”! And I reminded them that the boys had been puffy painted so they were not for human consumption!

Upon a closer look, I noticed my boys were losing lots of their limbs. And to my dismay, a few in the back of the tree had disappeared altogether.

It was only by chance that later that day I caught the culprit.

My sister’s dog Max, would ever so casually walk by the tree and snatch a snack! He was as cool as a cucumber!

Dear old Max had been terrorizing the gingerbread men and had even helped himself to more than a few.

Max was such a gentleman and a super well-behaved dog we never suspected him. You know it’s the mild manner ones you have to watch out for!


The first year the children were not home to chop down our tree because they were starting their own traditions in their own homes we decided to continue the Christmas tree tradition without the kids. After all, it was originally just the two of us!

So we chopped down our tree and brought it home. Bobby put the tree in the stand and then put the lights on the tree and our home smelled just like Christmas.

I brought up the boxes of decorations from the basement. We put on Christmas music and had nibbles and a holiday libation just like we did every year since our first married Christmas.

I opened a box of ornaments ready to decorate the tree and the first ornament I picked up was Christopher’s “babies first Christmas”.

Bobby and I looked at each other and started to cry. Actually, it became ugly crying. So we put the ornament back in the box and we sat on the sofa and had a good cry in each other’s arms.

That year our tree was decorated with lights only!

And in the last 12 years, since I’ve been blogging, we have had a different tree every year.


Our trees have been traditional like this year’s tree…

Or sassy and fun like this one…

Or a white like this one…

Or a tabletop tree like this one…

Or inspired by nature like this one…

Or quintessentially Christmas like this one…

Or heavily flocked and filled with lots of white, gold, and silver like this one…

Or a little tree in our bedroom…

Or a tree bedecked with ribbon like this one…

And there have been so many more! I’ve probably decorated well over 100 Christmas trees in my lifetime!

Me and Christmas trees have a long and wonderful history together. I look forward to their reappearance every year!

I have so many other Christmas stories about trees I bet they could fill a book. Hmmm, maybe they will!


And I bet you have a memory or story that revolves around a Christmas tree too. We would love you to share your story in the comments below!


A good estimate is about 100 lights per foot and a half of a tree.

A tree branch should easily bend in your hand and not feel brittle. Also, rub your hand over a few branches and look for needle retention. If lots of needles fall off, pass up this tree.

A tabletop tree should ideally be elevated. It can be put on a small table, a bench or even on a stack of books, depending on how big it is.

Hugs and Blessings,


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  1. Loved reading about your Christmas trees over the years. Bobby sounds like a treasure, lucky you! Have a wonderful Christmas, thanks for your blog, always so interesting and informative
    I always get such great ideas!

  2. Hi Yvonne, what a wonderful trip down memory lane on Christmas’ past. I can relate to so many of the things you mentioned… ?, the big colored lights, crinkley tinsel that my mom put on the tree one strand at a time. Wonderful, wwonderful memories!!!!! Thank you! Merry Christmas!!

    1. Oh how I Love hearing your stories. Some are very informative. I can relate to your silver tree with color wheel a couple years ago at an auction we was able to buy one, in the original box, it’s fragile but priceless. Merry Christmas! Keep the stories coming!

    2. Of Yvonne I loved today’s post. I can relate a bit especially the year you pulled out your sons ornament and you both cried. My two sons have been blessed with so many ornaments. This year I decided to pull out their holiday items from ornaments, stockings and even items they created in school. Our oldest’ Lego train encircles around the bottom and the entire tree is lovingly filled with so many fun ornaments. I can recall the story behind each one. They are almost 33 and 28 now. At the end of this year I will once again pack each of their own boxes. Maybe before they have their own homes they will appear on our tree again. What I found this year was so much joy in the memories especially since our home could look dramatically different next year as we downsize. Thank you for the beautiful post. Merry Christmas to you, Bobby and family!

      1. June, how lovely to have those ornaments and the Lego Tain! Merry Christmas. Make sure you see my downsizing series. Go to my and scroll down to the bottom of the post to find a helpful series all about downsizing. It can be daunting but keep your eye on the goal. I will forever LOVE our StoneGable home but the Tanglewood House is perfect for us and Bobby and I are very very happy here. Blessings as you go through the process.

        1. Thank you for your supportive words. Our sons were home last weekend and based on the weather right now we are happy they are safely home in their nests. Stay safe and warm. We are getting hit really hard here in Minnesota! Looking forward to many more great posts in 2023. Curious about the ribbons on your tree. Do you just pinch and tuck in or wire. Love how it billows a bit.

          1. Hi June, good to hear you are safe. Enjoy your white Christmas! I did it all I pinched and wired most of the ribbon and then tucked it into the tree. I’ll do a post next year on how to put ribbon on a tree for you! God bless you and Merry Christmas.

  3. Loved this! My mom hung tinsel one strand at a time, too. My favorite memory is the year I decorated with gingerbread men (I did not paint them, thank goodness). I came in one day and the empty red ribbons were on the tree but no cookies. My two-year old son had eaten as high as he could reach and put the empty ribbons back on the tree! We still laugh about it. I have been doing a designer tree for years, but I think next year I’m going to pull out all those beloved ornaments and do a family tree again. There are so many memories in those boxes! Thanks for sharing this!

    1. What a sweet story! Yes, I’m thinking about adding the family ornaments we have too.

  4. One year my husband bought a live tree after work and picked it up in his truck after work. We lived rural, and he commuted to work so this made the most sense. I was at home with our three littles. While on the way home it blew out of the truck and the person behind him ran over the tree. He stopped and retrieved what was left, and that was our tree.
    Besides being a little crooked and some lost limbs, we loved and decorated it.
    Merry Christmas!

  5. Yvonne,
    I just love this years tree! Would you share where you purchased that striped taupe/beige ribbon that is on the tree? Its just perfect

  6. This was a fun post. Wish there had been pictures of some of the earlier ones. The bare-topped tree was wonderful. It reminded me of the year my toddler nephew lined all the red balls in a row on one limb. Mom would not allow us to move them.

  7. I, too, have a love for Christmas trees! I plan all year how I’m going to decorate ours. Yours have been so beautiful over the years. And I, too, have had our kitty knock one over full of ornaments. He hid for days! Merry Christmas and thanks for sharing your lovely memories.

  8. CarolBinTX says:

    I have a lot of Christmas tree memories too! My dad always waited until 12/20 to buy our tree because his mom and dad always put up their tree on the 24th when Santa brought it. So maddening! We always ended up with a sickly looking tree while all my friends had the silver trees up for a month! We had a silver tree too. When my grandmother downsized, we inherited her tree. It went in the formal living room in between two doors to the living and dining room. The space was narrow, so my mom only put up half of it! It was a fun party activity to see all the imbibed adults looking for the other half of that tree! I bought our first tree as a married couple at KMart for $15, ornaments, lights and all! It was shipped overseas for the 3 years we lived there. I sold it to a neighbor when we left, she’s still using it! I didn’t even put up a tree this year, but these memories are priceless and keep all my Christmases merry and bright!

    1. CarolBinTX says:

      Unrelated to trees, but a funny story. My mom baked cookies one year for weeks for a party she was having. She thought to freeze them and keep them fresh and away from the kids. The day before the party, down to the basement, the containers were nearly empty! My brother had found them and was snacking on them for weeks! He also guzzled a container of whiskey sours, thinking it was just orange juice! That silver tree starting looking suspicious to him too!

  9. Thanks for bringing back such good memories! December 15th was my dad’s birthday and we would celebrate by having family and friends over to decorate our tree. We served pizza, Christmas cookies, and of course, birthday cake. The very special part was that we lived 2 blocks from the local Catholic Church and their men’s group sold trees every year. Since it was so close and we thought it would be fun, we would walk down to the church and carry the tree home. Always a surprised look on the man’s face when he would ask which car was ours. Whoever had something significant going on that year would be designated to carry the tree. My brother and his fiancé, the year they got engaged. My sister and her husband, the year they got pregnant. Oh, so much fun!!! Merry Christmas!

  10. So nice to hear your Christmas tree stories. We have had some funny ones. When I was little my daddy would take me and my brother in the woods and cut down a cedar tree. We would decorate it with ornaments that we had made. Mama would buy tinsel too. (I have never put that on my own trees). When I was on my own I would decorate my tree with mostly homemade ornaments. I have always had a real tree. I have 4 girls and we always pick out our Christmas tree and have it cut the day after Thanksgiving. I have had several trees that have fallen in the middle of the night. I would always pick it up, holding my breath hoping that my favorite ornaments had not broken. I finally resorted to tying it to the molding around the window. One year I heard it crash in the middle of the night and ran in to start picking it up and it fell again. I had to wake my daughters up to help me stand it up again. After that everything sagged. We have had a tree with 2 trunks which we did not realize until we were ready to put it up. Another year we had a tree with a curved trunk. I look pretty in the field, then when we put it in the stand we realized the trunk had more that 1 curve. It looked like a mountain road. My daughters and husband love laughing about that one especially. Another time the summer had been especially wet so the tree was especially fresh, no loose needles at all. We left to go out of town after Christmas and when we came home I noticed something on the top of the tree. It had new needles sprouting out on it.
    Every year I have bought my daughters a new Christmas ornament and dated them, so that when they were ready to have their own tree they had ornaments to start with. Our tree is decorated with many homemade ornaments as well as ornaments that represent the many interests that we each have. My youngest daughter helped me pick out their ornaments one year which happened to be nutcrackers. She picked the fanciest most glittery one she could find for herself. She would hang it front and center. Her sister would either move it to the back of the tree or hang one of her own ornaments in front of it. I put as many lights and ornaments on my tree as possible and end with glass ice cycles. My daughters are all on their own now so my ornament collection has dwindled. I now buy one for myself when I buy theirs every year.

  11. This is a beautiful post!! Such wonderful memories! I, too, have memories of Trees of Christmas Past. Along with those memories, come memories of People Past. Those memories become more priceless to me as the years roll by. I pray that my children and grandchildren will remember our Christmas trees and traditions with as much love and fondness as I have over the years. Happy Christmas to you and your family and have a wonderful New Year!!

  12. Brenda Reau says:

    I would love to know the source of the honecomb looking paper Christmas trees. I love the texture of those mixed in with the other items!

    1. I found them a few years ago at West Elm on a super sale. Paper Christmas decor is very popular this year. Look on West Elm or Pottery Barn to see if there paper trees are still in stock. Merry Christmas.

    2. CarolBinTX says:

      I see these at World Market every year.

  13. Janice Switzer says:

    Yvonne: So enjoyed this blog. It brought back so many wonderful memories.
    I had the same silver aluminum Christmas tree with the colour wheel while growing up. Quite a few years ago my sister and I headed down to The Bay downtown Vancouver, BC where we both purchased a 7 foot Christmas Tree after Christmas. It was $200 marked down to $60 and because we were skytraining it, we had it sent to another closer Bay where is was marked down to $25. It is not totally the same but still brings back memories every time I put it up. Your mention of tinsel – it was heavier back then and yes I liked to put it on a strand at a time and fix the thrown clumps thrown on the tree by my two children. This year, we have a 14 month old Tervueren Belgium Shepherd (what were we thinking) who has helped himself to a few ‘vintage’ ornaments on the tree (I especially liked that sleigh ornament) – the baby gate has gone back up. For quite a few years now, I have a tree in my front room my ‘Family Tree Christmas Tree’ which has mini frames on it of greatgrandparents/grandparents/parents/children & spouses and now our grandchildren (all labelled on the back), it is rustic looking. My other tree in the family room has all the kids ‘homemade ornaments’ along with all the Santa/Snowmen inspired ornaments that we collected together over the years.
    PS reading the other posts – they are awesome. So many fun memories. Will have to bring up a few ‘memories’ over Christmas dinner this year.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family. Thank you so much for sharing.

  14. We will celebrate our 50th anniversary this year. The first Christmas we were married we were struggling seminary students with little money. So we decorated our little free tree with little metal tart tins and little mirrors, glued back to back hung on fishing wire and we strung a real popcorn garland. So every year since I always hang one of the tart tins and mirrors to remind us of our humble beginnings. They hang proudly among my beautiful Swarovski crystal balls, stars and snowflakes and other gold, white and crystal ornaments collected over our lifetime. It’s my sparkle tree!

    1. CarolBinTX says:

      I’ve kept one of every little ornament we had/made when we were living paycheck to paycheck (and beyond) too. They are my favorite…such sweet memories!

  15. Mary Nell says:

    What a lovely share full of sweet memories. I smiled all way through this story as I related with several of the same memories. All of your trees have been beautiful during the years, always enjoy seeing them each Christmas!
    Merry Christmas! ?