Dad’s Tree. My Annual Christmas Story

My Annual Christmas Story

Dad decorated a Christmas tree the way he did everything else, with pride. No, it was not the best or the most adorned, and it would not win any prizes. But it was one of a kind… his.
He did it from the purchase to the last strand of tinsel. He tied it to the roof, drove it home, screwed it into the stand, straightened it, and planted it by the largest window. Dad strung the lights in a spiral, hung the ornaments, the balls… silver, blue, red and green; draped the tinsel, skirted the stand, stuck the star on the top, and stood back. Perfect.

“When I was a kid, we put real candles on our tree. We sat and watched them so the house wouldn’t burn down.”

The first memory I have is seeing the blur of lights, a glow filling the corners of my eyes with mist.. His tree was as green as a summer day and smelled as fresh as evergreens on the side of a mountain. It radiated streams of low winter light that bounced off the balls, the tinsel and the ornaments, filtered through the branches with speckled beams to the rug. The light’s glow and the tree’s aroma meant Christmas.

Each ornament was hung in the same place every year. Angels came alive, Santa brought gifts, balls reflected light and bells rang with joy. In the middle of the tree was Dad’s favorite, a cloth Santa. “I bought that Santa when you were born. It’s as old as you.”

Santa was two thirds the way up the tree. Made of cloth, stitched and glued, he was no more than four inches high, wore a tall red hat with a white cotton rim, a long red jacket that hung to his knees, light blue pants, a brown sack over his left shoulder and black boots. His droopy, pink face and blue eyes sung with joy.
Year after year Dad hung his Santa. The years went by, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty. Santa never failed. He took his place two thirds the way up.

I married and had children. Each Christmas Day, Dad anticipated our arrival, and then he strolled to his tree. “That Santa is as old as your father.”
Over the years Santa aged too; his beard went from white to tan, he lost his left hand, his pants drooped, pine needles stuck to his boots, his sack shriveled, the piping on the front of his jacket needed stitching, the cotton withered.

Where is the Santa

My Dad died in 1996. We bought a small tree for Mom and decorated it, never failing to place the Santa. Mom died six years later. Disposing of their collection was difficult. As we discarded the old decorations, I panicked. Where was Santa? At the last moment, I found him, surrounded by hunks of tinsel, attached to

THE Santa

THE Santa

Mom’s last tree, in a junk heap in the corner of the yard. I captured him. That year he took his place on my tree. “See that Santa. Pop bought it when I was born.”

One year, I lost the Santa. I panicked. The following year, while unpacking ornaments, I found him, lying in the bottom of the box. I took a deep breath as memories surfaced, melting into tears. “I found him, I found him.”

Santa took his place in the tree, two thirds of the way up from the bottom.
When my grandchildren arrive at Christmas, l stroll to the tree. “See that Santa. He’s as old as I am. Pop bought him when I was born.”

Dad’s tree will ever remain one of a kind…ours.

© 2017

By | 2018-12-10T15:43:19+00:00 December 20th, 2018|Christmas|50 Comments


  1. Mike Montigny December 21, 2015 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    As always, an excellent story! It brought memories, however the women in our family did all the decorating except for the angel on the tree top and securing the tree to the stand.
    We had no fireplace however my father convinced me that he came down the laundry chute in the bathroom!

    • Ed December 21, 2015 at 8:24 pm - Reply

      Funny, Mike. I always wondered what those without fireplaces id for that right jolly old Elf.

  2. Fran Chevalier December 21, 2015 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    I loved this story, Ed. It filled my heart with memories. No one does tinsel anymore. I would sit in the living room for hours at night watching the lights and shimmering tinsel.
    Merry Christmas, Ed.

    • Ed December 21, 2015 at 8:23 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Fran. Merry Christmas.

  3. Gino Crisafulli December 21, 2015 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    Una bella storia Eduardo!

    Buona Natale!


    • Ed December 21, 2015 at 8:23 pm - Reply

      Grazie, Gino. Buon Natale.

  4. David Brock December 21, 2015 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this. I was missing something this year and you brought it back.

    God Bless and Merry Christmas

    • Ed December 21, 2015 at 8:22 pm - Reply

      Thank you, David. So pleased I jogged your memories.

  5. Bob Tyzbir December 21, 2015 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    I always remember Uncle Pete’s tree. It was the best.

    • Ed December 21, 2015 at 8:27 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Bob. He certainly spent plenty of time on it, and we all benefitted. Buon Natale e Buon Capodanno.

    • Ed December 21, 2015 at 8:28 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Bob. we all benefitted for the time he spent decorating. Buon Natale e Buon Capodanno

  6. Frank Joly December 21, 2015 at 10:03 pm - Reply

    Dr. Ed, your story follows my Families to a “T”.

    We , every Christmas, made a few new ornaments using “tin cans”, cutting the bottoms out and flattening the metal so we could form stars, angels, etc.. Today, the kids do not know what “:tinsel” is, made of tin and very fragile.
    Thanks for the memories.

    • Ed December 22, 2015 at 1:20 pm - Reply

      So pleased to have rekindled your memories, Frank. The stories are so very similar, no matter the culture. It’s about family and simpler times. Merry Christmas and Happy Healthy New Year.

  7. Karen December 26, 2015 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    Boy oh boy did you just bring back my own memories. Yes, candles on the tree! So old Europe! Life was slower then I guess. Who has time on Christmes Day to watch the candles burn. Not me- too busy filling the dishwasher. Thank you my friend!

    • Ed January 4, 2016 at 12:58 pm - Reply

      Love you!

  8. Honey December 19, 2016 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Every year you get mascara all over my face. Darn great writer!

    • Ed December 19, 2016 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      Love you!

  9. joan December 19, 2016 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    Once again you brought out the wonderful memories of my childhood…oh to have those days back! I have to tell u a funny story about my year he couldn’t get the tree to stop from troppoling over, so he took about a 4 inch nail or more and hammered them into the tree stand into our hardwood floor in the living room…my mother just about had a fit!!(but the tree did not fall). It still is a story we all still laugh about! So Dr. I’m wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas and health, peace and happiness in the new year?

    • Ed December 19, 2016 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      So funny. Thanks for sharing, Joan. Merry Christmas

  10. joan December 19, 2016 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    My comments above!

  11. Maria H. Izzi December 19, 2016 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    Dear Ed:

    I had forgotten about the old decorations of Christmasses past…your story made me cry. It brought back a flood of memories, one in particular….we were a family of four girls and out mother did not drive so my father had to buy everything including the Christmas tree. One night he brought home a tree that my sisters and I thought was much too skimpy of branches around the middle. My father (Mario) took it in stride, went to the garage came back with tools and cut the bottom branches off with a saw, trimmed them to fit and then drilled new holes where he then placed the branches to magically fill out the tree!! What a guy!!! Thanks for the memories.

    • Ed December 20, 2016 at 2:34 pm - Reply

      As only a special father would do, Maria. I am so pleased that I rekindled your fond memories. Merry Christmas.

  12. Vin DiBiasio December 19, 2016 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the memories Ed of our childhood Christmas trees. I remember the many Christmas tree ornaments we made and especially the popcorn strings. We would pop a lot of popcorn and mom would give us needle and white thread and we’d make long popcorn strings that we’d place around the tree.

    About 50 years ago when I was diagnosed with tuberculosis I spent three months in a sanatorium in Massachusetts. It was a hospital but not what we think of a hospital today with plenty of medication and X-rays. The staff wanted to insure meds were taken until patients would become inactive and not spread the disease if they were not confined to the hospital. Every day I would dress in my casual clothes and head for the ceramics shop.Since it was around Christmas time many ceramic Christmas trees about 18″ high were being made. I made a few along with some other items. I was released after being declared inactive. (As I write this comment I have one of the trees I made lit in my window with all the colored lights.) After two years of taking a few thousand pills I recovered with no problems with my lungs. Every Christmas brings back the memory of where I made the ceramic Christmas tree.

    • Ed December 20, 2016 at 2:33 pm - Reply

      Reason for the good memories and the ornamental reminder, Vin. I would love to see a picture of that ceramic tree. Merry Christmas and Happy Healthy New Year.

  13. Darlena December 20, 2016 at 12:28 am - Reply

    Your story reminded of the way I decorate our tree. Certain ornaments go in the same place every year. Most of the ornaments bring back memories as to where they were purchased or who gave them to us. A few of the ornaments belonged to the grandmother I never knew and are over 100 years old. They aren’t the prettiest, but they are the most treasured. Merry Christmas!

    • Ed December 20, 2016 at 12:18 pm - Reply

      Thank you for sharing your story, Darlena. So nice to hear from you. Merry Christmas an Happy Healthy new Year to you and Family.

  14. Maria C. Mansella December 20, 2016 at 1:43 am - Reply

    Che bei ricordi! Mi fa piacere leggere i tuoi racconti.
    Auguri di Buon Natale a te e alla tua famiglia.

    • Ed December 20, 2016 at 2:28 pm - Reply

      Grazie, Maria, grazie. Scrivo della carta…che i vari doni porta questo speciale periodo possano regarlarti la felicita’
      Altrettanto, Buon Natale a te e alla tua famiglia.

  15. Ann Iannotti December 20, 2016 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    This story made me cry as I remember my childhood and the importance of our Christmas tree. It was a special event at our house and we were all present and very excited to decorate it. Everyone helped…Dad put the lights on, Mom and my brother and I did the ornaments on and Dad put the angel on the top. Last, but by no means least, we all enjoyed the fun of all of us putting the tinsel on! AfterI got married it was a similar story, only we had ornaments that told a story as each year went by. As each of our three boys were born they had their own ornament, and they made new ornaments in school each year, there were ornaments that matched each dog through the years, there were ornaments that spoke of different eventsi in each of their lives, and,of course, there was a skinny elf that we named “Skinny Marink” who we always put in a spot were we wanted to hide a small spot in the tree that was empty. In other words, this tree belonged to every one of us and we also enjoyed decorating it every year. Thanks for bringing back my memories with your beautiful story.

    • Ed December 20, 2016 at 2:25 pm - Reply

      I am so pleased that I touched your wonderful memories, Ann. Thanks for sharing your story. Beautiful.
      Merry Christmas and Happy Healthy New Year.

  16. Marilyn Favali December 16, 2017 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    I so love hearing your stories Ed. Brings back memories of Christmas traditions at my house too. Wishing you and your family a very Merry. Christmas and a Blessed and Healthy New Year.

    • Ed December 17, 2017 at 12:48 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your kind comments, Marilyn. Buon Natale e Buon Capodanno

  17. Joe Mansolillo December 18, 2017 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    Love this story Ed. Haven’t thought about tinsel in years! You say it just the way it was… Great reading, keep the articles and books coming. Joe Mansolillo

    • Ed December 18, 2017 at 11:34 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much, Joe. Pleased I touched your nostalgia. Yes, I plan to continue. I have many more stories in the queue.
      Buon Natale e Buon Capodanno a te e la tua Famiglia.

  18. Peter Voccio JR. December 20, 2018 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    A Christmas tree that was special with a Santa on the very top would become special for many years. Your dad got more joy from the warmth it brought to family and friends. Merry Christmas to you Diane, and family.

    • Ed December 20, 2018 at 7:23 pm - Reply


  19. Michael Murphy December 24, 2018 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    Ed, Happy Birthday and thank you for this wonderful annual story, my Mom was very similar.

    Merry Christmas, Murph.

  20. Vicki Summers December 24, 2018 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this heart warming story, Ed. It’s so touching and real. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    • Ed December 24, 2018 at 4:26 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Vicki. A Happy Healthy New Year to you and Family.

  21. Raymond Amore December 24, 2018 at 3:13 pm - Reply

    Beautifully written, Ed, a story told with art and heart. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    • Ed December 24, 2018 at 4:25 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Ray.
      Merry Christmas and Happy Healthy New Year

  22. Natalie L McKenna December 25, 2018 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    I have only one ornament from my childhood and it is packed away with all of my Christmas decorations.
    I don’t put up a tree any more, but you, once again bring to mind my childhood days when we decorated the tree each Christmas. Thank you for the memories!

    • Ed December 25, 2018 at 11:23 pm - Reply

      So pleased to share experiences with you, Natalie.
      Happy Healthy New Year

      • Natalie L McKenna December 28, 2018 at 4:21 am - Reply

        Thanks and I wish you and yours the same!

  23. Alan Ashare December 26, 2018 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    I remember making Christmas tree ornaments in grade school, and then finding willing families with Christmas trees to put them on. We did light candles for Hannukah (we needed the heat), but we put them on a special menorah in a safe place to prevent burning down the house. We did a lot of visiting on Christmas day, and it was great seeing the Christmas decorations and the decorated trees. When Sue and I had children, again we had Christmas decorations made in school which we placed on willing friends’ trees. The youngest one Matt went to a Catholic nursery school (it was very close to where we lived). The nuns were very inventive; Matt came home with pictures of dreidels and menorahs which we placed on our friends’ Christmas trees.
    Merry Christmas and a very Happy 2019 to you and Diane and your entire family. Keep the stories coming. Sue and Alan

    • Ed December 26, 2018 at 2:10 pm - Reply

      Great recollections, Al. We all should be more ecumenical as were you and your family. The world would be a better place.
      Thanks for sharing, my friend.
      Happy Healthy New Year to You, Sue and Family.

  24. Stevie Champion December 29, 2018 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    Ed, Your wonderful story recalled childhood memories of the importance of holiday traditions–especially to my grandfather. Every November he would drive to his family homestead in northern coastal Maine to cut THE TREE. The tree was never perfect. When he decorated it on Christmas Eve with the same age-old ornaments, a family member would invariably suggest turning the tree this way or that to hide a gaping hole created by a missing branch. But Grampie merely chuckled and stepped back to admire his handiwork. Two more chores awaited him that night–making the much-sought-after Greek antipasto revealed to him by an old friend years before and a potent eggnog–both to be served the next morning after church and before opening presents under the tree.
    Wishing you and Diane good health, peace, ands joy in the New Year!!
    — Stevie and Doug

    • Ed December 30, 2018 at 1:43 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing this, Stevie. Especially the hole in your grandfather’s tree. He and I have so much in common, even today! And … what was in the eggnog??
      happy, Healthy New Year to you, Doug and Family

  25. Sandi Correira December 31, 2018 at 5:35 am - Reply

    What wonderful memories! My Mom did the decorating while my Dad suggested where to put the ornaments. My Dad

    convinced me that Santa came in the front door making a big deal of keeping the door unlocked!

    Glad you found your Santa to place in his special spot. Happy Holidays to you and Diane. – Sandi and Bob Correira

    • Ed December 31, 2018 at 1:08 pm - Reply

      Thank goodness for Dads, Sandi. Good memories. Happy Healthy New Year to You, Bob and Family

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