A mere mention of the word "ornament" to a gardener usually brings forth a variety of mental images of garden gnomes, gargoyles, naked statues, cement rabbits, or abstract art laying around the garden. I confess that it is no different for ProfessorRoush, who has detrimentally overpopulated his garden with beloved cement statues that range from the thoughtful to the absurd.
But, it occurred to me this week, during the Christmas season I practice a different form of garden ornamentation, although to no less excess. You can essentially forget about "stewardship of the planet" during Christmas at my house.
The other members of my household, Mrs. ProfessorRoush, the absent son, and my diminutive clone of my mother, all are in agreement that the annual Christmas tree in our house must be "live," or rather, one of those cut-off but once-living classic Christmas trees. In fact, it must be a Frazier fir, preferred by all for the stiffness of the branches and the longevity of the needles. I've personally been tempted to obtain the orderliness and ease of an artificial tree, but I've been overruled for a number of years now. And, due to my confusion caused by the various advocates for potted living trees or for the plight of poor Christmas Tree farmers and the distractive screaming of the WEE (Wild-Eyed Environmentalists) who bemoan the fossil fuel consumption represented by an artificial tree, I'm not sure what is the ecologically correct solution anyway. So every year, I'm hauling in another dying tree to hope that it doesn't become a fire hazard before I can dump it into a pond (for fish shelter) after New Year's Day.
Regarding ornamentation, however, that poor dying tree is gaudied up to the nines every year. And the ProfessorRoush household isn't into the scene of a purchased set of matching Christmas ornaments or a store-bought, designer approved, ornamentation schema. No, our tree gets decorated with a hodgepodge of ornaments, all individual and all weighty with family meaning.
They start at my favorite, the Kansas Wheat Ornament pictured at the very top right of this blog, handmade by my daughter in nursery school. This one, so special to me, represents Kansas and my former toddling daughter all at one time. There are a number of other homemade ornaments as well like the one pictured to the right, this particular one made by ProfessorRoush himself in a ceramics store to which he was dragged against his better judgement at the time.
There are ornaments to commemorate vacation visits, from the White House and other areas. And friendships, like the one given to my wife by her best friend and carrying each of their names. There are a whole bunch of soft cloth ornaments like the one at the left that were handmade by my mother one year early in our marriage, most of which still make the tree.
A very special group of ornaments that decorate our tree represent a tradition started by my father, to give an ornament as a gift most every year to the children, so there are various anonymous ornaments representing a child's age (as for my son's 3rd Christmas at the right) or some that are more professionally done that are personalized to each child, like the one pictured below. The latter group, of course, will follow the children someday to their homes and I'll be left missing the ornaments at Christmas, probably almost as much as the children.
Alas, it may be a dying tree that provides holiday cheer in the ProfessorRoush home, but it is given the best prettying up we can give it, with each bauble and bangle cherished all. Merry Christmas to all!