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A Charlie Brown Christmas!

The small tabletop tree in my guest bedroom looks too fancy to be considered a Charlie Brown tree, but that’s what I call it anyway. The reason? Because it holds all the leftovers that don’t fit on the larger, more beautiful tree in my family room. Also, because it displays some of my most cherished memories that would have been lost on a larger, more ornate Christmas tree.

For the last twenty years, that little tree has been part of my Christmas décor, so I thought I’d write a blog about it—perhaps to inspire others to do something similar. Of course, your special little tree doesn’t have to be as fancy as this one or as puny as Charlie Brown’s but a second tree that holds special memorabilia is a little treasure that is generally more private than public.

Another reason for a tree like this is for the option to having no tree at all! So, if you’ve decided the heck with it, I’m not doing a tree this year—a little one like this might be perfect! Instead of all the time and money spent on a huge family or living room tree, a tree like this holds more meaning and make sense for those who’ve dramatically downsized or are just starting out!

Now, if you Google a Charlie Brown Tree, you will see that scraggly excuse for a tree with one pathetic ornament hanging from it. I suppose such a choice might fit the bill for minimalists, those who just want to celebrate with simplicity or those who truly relate to that one treasured cartoon strip character. I personally prefer my hybrid version. It’s artificial, full and nicely shaped little tree that is chocked full of the random ornaments that each carry a special meaning. As I unwrap each one, my mind is flooded with memories that always make me smile. Anyway, I thought I’d share what some of those ornaments are— so you might be inspired to begin your own collection.

The first one is actually 24 of them! One Christmas, in the 1980’s, my previous husband, spent way too much money at Saks Fifth Avenue to buy me a silk lined case of little carved, hand painted pastel angels. I had seen them earlier that season and desperately wanted them but thought the price was outrageous, so I passed! Well, on Christmas morning, I found that box wrapped under the tree and have treasured his thoughtful gift ever since. Each was unique and tiny (no more than 2” high), which seemed fitting for precious little angels!

But, before I placed the angels on the tree, I began the decorating process with a large bow and streamers. This bow was tied from a yummy, custom fabric I salvaged from an earlier elegant tree I had years prior. Once the bow was placed on tip, I draped the streamers down the tree and then I hang each beautiful little angel in scattered fashion all over the tree. Next came the assorted, miscellaneous but nonetheless treasured ornaments I’ve collected over the years. Most are very inexpensive, but each holds memories I relive every time I place one on my “treasure tree”.

Those treasures include two very small two paper ornaments, I think one is supposed to be an oval but it’s lopsided, and the other has no precise shape but both are made from colored construction paper, now very faded with age. They’re sprinkled with glitter from the tiny fingers of my son, Jon, when he was in pre-school and then kindergarten. Today, Jon would be 52, so you have some idea how long I’ve been placing them on Christmas trees! It’s amazing they’re still in one piece as one has an ornament hook poked through the top of it and the other one is just braced between branches.

Of course, there are grandchild ornaments— three silver/rhinestone ornaments with round frames to hold cropped photos of each of my 3 grandkids’ faces. I’ve a few ornaments whose origins I can’t identify but don’t fit in anywhere else and they are quite old—likely 50-years or more. One is a little painted, carved wooden drummer boy, one is a bird with spread wings and there are several other random and small ornaments, each brightly colored. I have one or two from my parent’s tree I saved after they passed. Plus, there are three silver ornaments from the White House each featuring a beautiful photo of the house or grounds on enamel, all different. A reminder of times when I was a political donor and had a lot more money. 

There is also a tiny crystal champaign flute and a couple of miniature cloth angels—well, really just the head, halo and tiny flared gown (2 ½” tall). There’s also a white enamel dove and other diverse ornaments that make me remember my first apartment and a couple earlier marriages—LOL. Memories, yes, this is a tree of memories!

Surrounding base of the tree, I’ve placed three small silver frames which hold photos of my son Jon, at different ages, sitting on Santa’s lap. I added one a few years ago of my three grandchildren—perched on Santa’s knees and directly in front of him, all in one photo! Finally, a couple miniature but very cute stuffed animals wearing Christmas accessories. How can anyone walk into a room with such a magnificent display and not stop to smile and, in my case, remember?

So, if you are thinking, you’ll pass on a tree this year or if you’ve just moved into your new place and a big tree doesn’t make sense now, this is a great option! You don’t have to have a treasure trove of old ornaments and memorabilia from years past like I do but you can begin building your memories today!

If you have extra time on your hands, make a few of your own decorations by mounting photos of your family on construction paper, pick up a small, odd ornament here and there that catches your eye and begin decorating your own personal tree. String popcorn or string popcorn with cranberries! And, of course, add tinsel since nobody throws tinsel on a tree anymore! So, your tree will be authentic and unique. Yes, your tree will have personality or maybe even a theme. Then announce to your family that you’re beginning a family memory tree! You might be surprised what they offer up either this year or in years to come!

Christmas is a magical time, a time to engage your creative side and a time to share love. What better to way to express that love than to demonstrate little bits of it on a small, Charlie Brown tree that is totally you!!

Merry Christmas.

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