The photographic explorations of a former film student.

Ceramic Christmas Trees

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 quirky bird tree.


Believe it or not, the birds grow on you after a bit.

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.

My mother's small tree.


A light on the small tree.

 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.

4 responses

  1. What a great idea…love it. :< )

    December 23, 2010 at 8:09 am

  2. I love that tiny light with the star etching. What a wonderful memory to share of those old ceramic trees.

    December 27, 2010 at 5:47 pm

  3. Love the old ceramic trees….my mom still has hers after 50 years!

    February 8, 2011 at 3:20 am

    • Didn’t know the concept went back quite that far. They’ll be around our family for a long time yet.

      February 8, 2011 at 4:25 am

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