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Elinor Florence (Company name) Elinor Florence

Tour My Traditional Tree

My old-fashioned traditional tree simply glitters with nostalgia, and this Christmas season I want to share some of my favourite ornaments with you.

Elinor Florence with traditional Christmas tree

This is the time of year when perfectly cone-shaped, colour-matched, ribbon-draped artificial trees start to appear.

But we still have a traditional tree, usually lopsided and tacked to the ceiling with fishing line, complete with sagging branches and shedding needles. Folks, that’s a traditional tree!

In case you are feeling smug about your decision to avoid killing a natural tree, may I remind you that eighty percent of all artificial trees are produced in China in factories, then shipped here using enormous amounts of fuel? A natural tree can be grown from seed within twenty years.

However, I am not judging you! I also have a white artificial tree in my white office for the purpose of displaying some of my lovely mid-century vintage glass ornaments.

white Christmas tree with vintage ornaments

Finding the Traditional Tree

But now, here’s my traditional tree. My daughter Katie, her husband Tom, and children Nora, Juliet and Jack found our traditional tree this year when they were cutting down their own.

They have a “secret spot” for the best trees, located on Crown land, which they haven’t even revealed to me!

Cutting down traditional tree

We had to chop it down significantly to fit under our nine-foot ceiling.

Traditional tree before decorations

Adding the Traditional Tree Lights

Then out came the lights — easy to untangle since Katie gave me these storage reels for Christmas one year, purchased at Home Hardware.

I start at the top and drape the lights over as many branches as possible in a random pattern. This year I used thirty metres of lights.

Christmas tree lights, coiled

My Traditional Tree Ornaments

Then I unpack my ornaments, all carefully sorted and labelled. As I unpack each one, I’m usually overwhelmed with memories.

Traditional tree decorations

Some of these shabby ornaments date back to my own childhood in the 1950s, but they remind me of happy days on the family farm in Saskatchewan.

Traditional tree ornament snowman


Traditional tree ornament elf

Back in 1983, when I was working at the Red Deer Advocate newspaper and had just given birth to my first baby, a reader sent me this ornament, handmade from an eggshell. It’s one of my favourites!

Traditional tree ornament baby egg

My writing profession is represented by this tiny typewriter.

traditional tree ornament typewriter

And my husband’s construction profession is honoured with this tiny hammer.

traditional tree ornament hammer

Then there are the ornaments that remind me of my own three girls.

A stuffed Santa, made by Janine.

Traditional tree Santa

A school photo surrounded by red and green playdough, made by Melinda.

Traditional tree ornament by Melinda ornament

Our family lived in Chihuahua, Mexico from 1994 to 1996 where my husband was building a gold mine for a Canadian company. Each of our three girls has a tiny doll with a baby on her back, to remind us of the poor indigenous people there, the Tarahumara.

Traditional tree ornament, Tarahumara doll

Also from Mexico came a set of painted tin ornaments. The kids think this one is hilarious — a skeleton holding a bottle of tequila.

traditional tree ornament, Mexican skeleton

Then there’s the devil, who actually makes an appearance at Christmas time in Mexico. At the end of the children’s Christmas concert at the school they attended in Chihuahua, half the kids came out dressed like angels and the other half like devils, then had a huge fight with cardboard swords. The angels drove the devils off the stage, signifying the triumph of good over evil!

traditional tree ornament, Mexican devil

A craft project I did with the three girls when they were younger are these fabric angels, made from thread spools and rags.

traditional tree ornament, fabric angels

Our beloved black Labrador named Laddy, whose bones are buried under a special rock on our property, is remembered lovingly with this ornament.

traditional tree ornament dog

Then there are our ethnic origins. My husband was born and raised in Berlin, so this glass ball is a nod to his German heritage.

(We have other German mementos, too. To see them, click here: Ten Favourite Christmas Traditions.)

traditional tree ornament from Berlin

My Scottish ancestors worked for The Hudson’s Bay Company as fur traders.

traditional tree ornament beaver

They married indigenous women, represented by these tiny moccasins.

traditional tree ornament moccasins

One of my great-grandfathers was an officer with the North West Mounted Police at Fort Battleford, Saskatchewan.

traditional tree ornament Mountie

Of course, we have many travel souvenirs — here are just three of them.

From the Yukon, a replica of the log cabin owned by the poet, Robert W. Service.

traditional tree ornament log cabin

We just had to have this lobster from Halifax.

traditional tree ornament lobster

From Italy, this little Michelangelo with a tiny David sculpture in one hand.

traditional tree ornament Michelangelo

Many years ago, my friend Jenefer Marshall crocheted a whole set of these snowflakes and gave them to me. I love their intricacy and the way they float on the branches like real snowflakes.

(Newer Christmas ornaments tend to be heavy, because they can hang on artificial branches — much sturdier than our Douglas fir tree.)

traditional tree ornament snowflake

The final step is sticking these vintage sparklers onto the lights.

traditional tree light sparklers

They aren’t all the same size and some of them always fall off. Believe me, stepping on one of these things in your bare feet will cause you to limp for a week!

However, they add so much sparkle that I always stick on a few dozen.

traditional tree sparkler


My Traditional Tree at Night

By the time we are finished, the poor tree is labouring under its burden of riches.

By Christmas Day, the branches will be drooping — but in the meantime, it gives us so much pleasure!

At night, the tree looks even better with the lights reflected in the window, and on the hardwood floor.

traditional tree at night

Dear Friends, this is the seventh Christmas that I have been writing this newsletter. Some of you have been following me since the beginning, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Here are links to five previous Christmas stories. Read them by clicking on the title. As always, feel free to share my stories with your friends and followers.

To all my readers, new and old, or young and old, have a very Happy Christmas and I’m sending all good wishes for a better year ahead!

With high hopes and great affection, Elinor


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