Yes, ceramic, not real, not artificial, not aluminum. No, they are not what you put your gifts under. They are small, lighted decorations ranging in size from about 11-18 inches tall. Once upon a time, way back in the ’60s or 70’s, it was popular to take a kind of ceramics class where the students decorated and painted previously made objects ranging from frog sculptures to miniature bathtubs. While I don’t care for most of these, I do love the Christmas trees. They have two basic parts: a stand with a lightbulb sticking up in the middle, and a hollow tree with many holes into which you insert the colored lights. The tree part fits over the lightbulb and when you plug it in, all the little lights on the tree glow. The effect works quite well.
I grew up surrounded by these trees at Christmas. My mom, my grandma, and my aunt each have a big one and a little one. Every year, mom digs them out for Christmas and puts the little lights in the holes with great care. They come in a wide variety. The individual ceramics student painted them and applied the fake snow, but that’s not all. Shapes, bulbs, and colors are different, and some have stars on top and music boxes in the bases. I even saw a white one once. Last year, my mom found me a gently used ceramic tree. The odd thing about it is that it has red birds for lights and someone glued them in so they wouldn’t have to put them in every year. We removed as many of the birds as possible. Strangely enough though, they do grow on you after a while.
My favorite ceramic tree is not the biggest or the one with the most features. It is the smallest one. For some reason, my mother’s small tree is slimmer than the others. It is an elegant pine color, a bit more blue than all the rest with small, jewel-tone lights that have stars on them.
Christmas is a time to enjoy your family and traditions, not worry that those traditions are weird. Because they’re not really weird, they’re unique and special to you. So we have our ceramic trees, and love them.
After going to college in the south, my northern blood has thinned and my toleration for cold has decreased. I’m also confronting the reality of winter driving conditions. It’s almost enough to make me dislike winter weather, but not quite. Snow is pretty. Our first snowfall of the year appeared not too long ago to rescue me from the gloom and grey of the not fall not winter landscape. Suddenly, the dull old world is fresh and new again.
I live in an area with a lot of small towns. The sense of community and history in these places fascinates me. They’re so small and simple and so layered and complex at the same time. You can see the marks different eras and trend have left on them. A few weeks ago, I got curious about a nearby small town (officially named a village) and decided to go exploring with my camera friend. I ignored the recently constructed stores and gas stations near the highway and headed into the older center of town. There’s not much to see, but what I did see brought to mind a list of questions. Why did they paint the town hall blue? Whose idea was that? Did there used to be another building next to that one? You could imagine a hundred stories.
I’m working on editing and posting some shoots from a few weeks back. These were taken about three weeks ago when there was still a bit of fall vegetation or remains thereof scattered about the yard. It was a bit dim, but there was light, interesting light. I’m a great believer in the idea that if you feel like taking pictures, you should. So I did, and this is the result.
P.S. I’m experimenting with different ways of displaying photos on my blog (galleries, slide shows) please let me know what you like best.