O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

What it is:

Four snapshots, each measuring 3 x 3.5 inches.

What I know about it:

Nothing!  Undated and unidentified.


I have a bunch of photos of Christmas and Christmas-related scenes (like the ones above), plus a bunch of standard studio portraits labeled “Christmas” with a year, as if they were given as gifts.  As I debated how many to post over the coming week, I realized I have very few photos of other holidays.  Plenty of photos of occasions like weddings, graduations and communions, but not holidays.  This is certainly by coincidence, not any design on my part, but it got me wondering about why that might be.  Is there just something, besides the flashiness of the decorations, that makes people pull out the camera on Christmas more than other holidays?  I suspect some of my other photos of gatherings represent holidays without being labeled as such.  And the lack of any non-Christian religious holidays indicates I need to work on my collection’s diversity!  Meanwhile, there’s the photos above to enjoy.  The screw driver on the coffee table suggests they just finished setting up the model train around the tree’s base.  If so, that would indicate that this is prior to Christmas.  And the presence of the gifts prior to Christmas suggests that the girl is beyond the age of believing in Santa Claus (if Santa is even acknowledged in a household that tops its tree with what appears to be a crucifix).  Incidentally, I have other photos of this living room which show that the television is normally in the window where the tree is, and the side table where the television is.

12 comments on “O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree”

  1. The heavy tinsel on the tree reminds me of trees from my childhood. I think the heavy tinsel is less popular now, yet in the 40s and 50s Christmas trees were shrouded in tinsel. The tinsel was made of aluminum foil-like material and I also recall some tinsel from even earlier that seemed to be some other heavier metal. It was always silver colored. Very different from the light, colorful, “plastic” tinsel one buys today.

    • Yes, their tree looks very shiny! Quite a lot of foil on it. I’m sure it looks better in person, in color, and when the room is more subtly lit. By the way, I’m frustrated that I can’t seem to get these a better size. On my screen they are even smaller than they are in real life. Sorry it seems hard to see detail.

  2. These are so cool, Matt. 🙂 I’d guess 40’s – 50’s also, but don’t take my word on it. In Chrome, I can easily make the photos larger, so I had fun with that. 🙂

    • Thanks, Katie! I was guessing 50’s. I always scan my photos larger than they are, and then try to post them at a size where it is easy to see detail without overwhelming the post. Sometimes it works nicely, and other times I seem to fall short. I kept tinkering with today’s, but it looks kind of small. And if I click on the picture, it just takes me to the next post, which it doesn’t do on other computers. Just when I think I’ve started to get a handle on things. Oh, well. LOL I’m glad you’re able to see them at a good size and enjoy them.

  3. Reminds me of decorating our trees in the ’60s. We still used the metal tinsel, and Mom somehow imparted that the most lavish trees were coated with tinsel, each strand hung separately. My sister would go about tinsel hanging patiently, one strand at a time, but I’d always get impatient and start flinging bunches of it in the air, hoping it would separate, straighten itself out and hang straight down. It didn’t.

    • I’m all in favor of tinsel on a tree, but it does require patience, which I don’t always have. I start with the best of intentions, and then, like you, try to take shortcuts, and hope I can pass it off as “artistic”. 🙂

  4. Funny: Delia Ephron’s “How to Eat Like a Child” (a humorous “how to” book about being a kid) directs the reader to do exactly as Paul did (listen to your mother explain the importance of hanging tinsel strand by strand, then throw clumps at the tree). I always wondered about that, since we never did tinsel; I don’t think I’ve ever even seen metal tinsel in person. It looks pretty flashy, as you said, in these photos, but it also gives the tree a sort of “Ghost of Christmas Future” look.

    • There’s different quantities of tinsel that can be applied, too, depending on the effect you are trying to achieve. You can lay a small number of strands around for some subtle sparkle, or you can really coat the tree in tinsel so it is a shining, gleaming marvel. Sometimes you start intending one and end up with the other.

  5. It seems like you’ve got a lot of tinsel comments… My mom has always been a big fan of tinsel on the tree (growing up the quantity on our trees were always akin to what’s in these photos), but she hasn’t been able to use it the last several years (since they got a dog).

    My paternal grandparents had one of those silver trees with a color wheel and red satin balls. I thought it was very weird when I was little – the tree in my family’s house was always a real cut tree – but learned to appreciate how cool it was, and when my grandparents stopped putting it up and started putting up green trees (sometimes real, sometimes artificial) I really missed the silver tree. Those grandparents have both passed away now and my aunt became a Jehovah’s Witness, so I’m very curious as to what happened to that silver tree – I’d love to have it if it’s still around, but I’m not sure how to approach the subject with my aunt.

    • Yes, indeed! I try to post a variety of pictures because I never know what’s going to strike a chord with people. I’ll try to remember that tinsel really resonates. 🙂

      Your grandparents’ tree sounds wonderful! I know exactly what you mean, how it’s the sort of thing that would have embarrassed you as a child, but that you regret having lost track of as an adult. There were things like that in my family, too. I don’t know your aunt at all, so I can’t say how she’d react, but would it be such an imposition on her to inquire as to the tree’s fate, as long as you can assure her that you aren’t holding her responsible for it? Good luck with that. And if not, surely there’s one floating around on eBay or something.

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