Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Legend of "This Tree Stinks"

Not too long ago, I included this photo, a close-up of some branches of our 2015 Christmas tree, in a post.
My daughter-in-law Regina read that post and saw the Christmas tree ornament on the lower right side that says "This tree stinks," and she left me a question in the combox.   She wanted to know the story behind it--because surely an ornament with such a ridiculous sentiment emblazoned upon it must have one, right?


I thought all of our boys had heard the tale--nay, the legend--behind this ornament, but perhaps not.  And if not, they really must learn it, because it is an important piece of Pearl family folklore. 

When my husband and his 7 siblings were young, their dad--my beloved late father-in-law--was very Clark Griswold-esque when it came to Christmas.  My dear late mother-in-law took care of most of the Christmas decorating inside the house--the classic knickknacks and Nativities, the wreaths and garlands and whatnot; but Dad was in charge of exterior illumination (his theory being that there could never, ever be too many lights).  And he was the one who always picked out the family's tree and put it up in a corner of the living room.

Dad was good at picking trees.  Usually.  But one year, he came home with a pathetic, sparse, Charlie Brown tree.  And when my husband's younger brother (#3 out of the 8) saw it, he was legitimately sad about it.  So he wrote "This tree stinks" on a scrap of loose-leaf paper and stuck it in the branches.  When Dad saw the note, he didn't get angry.  He realized that his son was absolutely right and that sub-par tree just wouldn't do.  So he took it down and went back to the lot to pick out a better one.

I had heard this story many a time over the course of my marriage, always told with fondness and laughter.  So just before Christmas 2013, I decided to immortalize my brother-in-law's famous tree rebellion by making each of the 8 siblings a "This tree stinks" ornament.  I hand-printed the words in pencil on loose-leaf paper and then scanned the image.  I was able to print out the scanned image on specialty paper that can be ironed onto fabric.  So I made 8 little "pillows" with the image ironed on one side, using red and green cotton Christmas calico that I'd inherited from my mother-in-law's impressive fabric collection.
Well, I'm positively thrilled to see that those humble little ornaments are now becoming part of everyone's yearly tree-trimming traditions.  On a recent family text stream between the 8 sibs, replete with emojis as usual (another family tradition that is becoming the stuff of legend), some of them sent photos of their ornaments gracing the branches of their trees.
I am so delighted to know that every year when my husband's brothers and sisters are trimming their trees, they pull out those ornaments.  They put them in places of honor, front and center.  And they smile, remembering the many happy Christmases they spent together in a big white Colonial on the shore of Lake Champlain--with a mother and father who made everything magical.

So that ornament will always have a special place on our tree, wedged in the branches as if left there by a disgruntled little boy.
Even though, as you can see, our tree definitely does NOT stink!