I lived in 11 homes in my first 18 years. Perhaps this is why, despite five people living in the cramped quarters of a 3-story townhouse, we have stayed put for 25 years. There are many flaws in our house, not the least of which is a lack of light in the winter and inadequate storage space in the front hall, the latter a constant source of irritation as I daily kick my way through mounds of boots and shoes to get inside.
Every time we moved, mom would make old furniture work in new rooms. Old pictures were hung on the walls making everything new and unfamiliar become familiar. Except for one move.
Mom and dad bought new furniture when we sold our big old house on top of a hill and moved into an apartment. The colour scheme was brassy gold and green – very mid-1960’s. My tall brother was used as the measuring stick to buy a new Chesterfield that would allow him to stretch out without his feet dangling over the end. It arrived just before Christmas, and just before Mom surprised us with a silver tree. Festooned in gold balls, it glittered in the living room like the Northern Lights.
The silver tree and the new furniture came with us to all subsequent homes. I don’t remember how many more times the tree was put up but eventually mom recycled its branches into other Christmas decor. Their sparkle carried a silvery memory when everything we had was new and unfamiliar.
I don’t know if it was the influence of the silver tree, but I am fond of tacky, Dollar Store Christmas decorations. In addition to fresh branches of cedar and pine cones collected from the walking trail on nearby Sawmill Creek laid on the dining room table, I liberally swag the house with shiny green and gold garland, fake silver poinsettias, and sparkly pin lights. The tree is decorated with a combination of homemade ornaments from the childrens’ elementary school days, gifts from family and friends, and a smattering of old ornaments given to us by my mother.
The tree is real, although every year my husband battles with the stand and the tree topples at least twice over the holidays. The star lists to the left, or the back, or forward. Last year we delayed picking a tree and ended up with a miniature thing that didn’t require a chair to place the star on top.
And so, this is home – a mish-mash of memory and clutter, some sparkle, some real, some fake. We make it work – most of the time – and if it doesn’t we cover it with something silver.