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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Tinsel on the Tree

When I think back on the Christmas trees of my childhood, I recall fat multi-colored lights, my dad wearing a hideous green and red paisley shirt the day the family decorated the tree, and tinsel.

Today, it’s hard to find people who decorate with it, let alone locate a box of icicle tinsel in the aisles of decorations available for purchase. This past week, I looked everywhere for it from discount stores to craft stores to import stores and came back empty-handed. My guess is that its popularity waned as we became more busy, and perhaps more conscious about the impact of Christmas on the environment. Picking strands off your formerly fresh tree before recycling or removing the tinsel from your artificial tree expends more time and energy than most of us want to commit for a little nostalgia. Thanks to the internet, however, if you have the time and you like the look, you can still purchase tinsel

The two dueling methods of tinsel decorating are Single Strand Draping and Free Form Tossing. Single Strand Draping requires drapers to stand close to the tree and carefully lay each individual strand on branch needles. Control freaks and mothers who don’t like to cut tinsel from their vacuum roller bars favor this method. Free Form Tossing requires decorators to stand several feet away from the tree and simply toss multiple strands at once, allowing them to fall where they may. Procrastinators, artistic-types, and most children of single-strand-draping mothers prefer the free form toss. Can you guess which camp my siblings and I belonged to?

Do you or don’t you tinsel? If you do, which method do you use?



At 10:25 AM, Blogger Karen said...

I have garlands of beads, so I use those. Trimming the tree is a multi-day event at my house. It takes an entire evening to put up the tree and get the lights on, so I trim the next day. I start early because most of my ornaments are family heirlooms that have to be smiled and laughed and wept over before they go on the tree. Christmas is a sentimental time at my house, but I only wallow in it during the trimming of the tree.

At 11:05 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

I put everything on my tree, including tinsel. I am a free form tosser of tinsel. :) I don't angst about my tree but I do have fun with it.

Karen, that is so sweet...smiling, laughing and weeping over the ornaments before they go on the tree. I LOVE that! I have a few ornaments like that...and I do love getting one new special ornament every year. I also have a lot of the Hallmark motion ornaments, which are lots of fun.

At 11:29 AM, Blogger Judy said...

What a wonderful tradition, Karen!

I bought a bunch of boxes of tinsel years ago, and I'm still using only the first box. I do mostly a few strands at a time, so I can drape it over the lights.

As to why it is used less, it's also a pet hazard. It only took one year of seeing my dog brush past the tree and accumulating the silver stuff on her coat and then she'd lick it off. ACK! After that, I only put tinsel on the upper three-fourths of the tree. The bottom quarter was tinsel free.

At 1:20 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

I love your tradition of smiling and remincing over your ornaments as you put them on your tree.

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

Hallmark has great ornaments. I've purchased some interesting ones over the years--including Wes's star trek ones!

At 1:24 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

You were smart to buy that tinsel. As to the pets, you're right. Ingestion of tinsel--not a good thing!

At 2:09 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

As a child I remember my mother painstakingly draping tinsel, one strand at a time, on our tree, but I haven't used it in years. One of our cats would almost certainly eat it. For the same reason we don't use ribbon when we wrap gifts.

At 2:41 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

I've got cats who like ribbon, too. One of them also likes to bat at the ornaments and garland on the staircase. Decorating is definitely a challenge with my kitties!

At 3:29 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Oh, Mo, LOL at your Single Strand Draping vs. Free Form Tossing descriptions :-)! I've always skipped tinsel because of the inherent internal conflict ;-). Like Karen, I use garlands. And bows--lots and lots of poofy fabric bows attached with wire.

I remember those fat colored lights, too, along with the secret thrill of "moving up" to the tiny, all-white fairy lights. Instead of tinsel, it's those lights that cause the biggest headaches at our house. I'm never satisfied with the look of the tree until I carefully wind light strings (with over 1,500 bulbs) along the entire length of each and every branch. It takes an entire day just to add the lights (and causes a major problem each year when my poor husband unwinds the strings from the tree).

One year my husband made me a deal: we could have the fancy tree I wanted if I promised not to add any lights. That may not have been the most attractive tree we ever decorated, but it was the easiest :-)!

I'm sure our kitties used to enjoy our trees more than the rest of us ;-), but it was the toddlers who posed the biggest challenges. One year we set the tree inside the two-year-old's playpen to keep him away from the ornaments.

At 6:32 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

The thing I remember most from my childhood was angel hair, but it turned out to be spun glass and was actually dangerous, so it disappeared from the market quickly.

I have a memory of a sparse Christmas when my parents had a lighted candelabra- three branches they put in the window. But early in the war there were sometimes blackouts even in the Midwest when we'd put blankets over the windows. So the candelabra could only be lit in the daytime. I've occasionally seen these candelabras in antique shows.

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

I understand your light dilemma. I do the same thing at my house, but I often emit some sort of charge (I think) that makes the lights not work. Last year when it happened again, I asked my daughter to touch the strand, which she did, and voila the whole strand lit up like it was supposed to. I am not looking forward to putting on the lights tomorrow, but I sure do love how it looks once I'm done with all the branch winding!


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