If It Ain’t Baroque, Don’t Fix It


“Daddy, I like this one … THIS one, daddy!” the girl insisted as she tugged on the spruce’s frozen boughs.  I glanced at the child and her loosely bound tree and thought it too short, too sparse on the bottom, and far too scraggily to ever make it onto the roof of my car.  I wouldn’t have taken the tree either. 

“No Daddy, THIS ONE!” she demanded from her elf-like vantage point.  An elderly man, perhaps her grandfather, stood with her daddy only a few feet away sizing up a strapping six-foot fir.  With the air of someone who had long since paid his parental placating dues, he turned to the child and simply said, “We like THIS one better.  Sorry.”

I suppressed a grin as I perused the Scotch pines, feeling a sense of empathy for the child, but at the same time, completely gratified by the old man’s no-nonsense approach.  He had obviously come from the ‘Because I Said So’ school of parenting where children ‘should be seen and not heard’ and were certainly never given any real say in family matters.  I waited for the wailing sounds of protest to ensue, but instead the refreshing smell of juvenile submission hung low in the pine-scented air.

As I walked out of the garden center I thought about the generational interplay in my own household.  I had announced two weeks ago that I wanted to change our Christmas decorations this year.  Specifically, I wanted to replace the 1970’s plastic fruit-encrusted mantle wreath that I had inherited from my mother over two decades ago, with something far less gaudy, flammable and … well, gaudy.

But my yuletide design team would have none of it.  From the minute the box of decorations hit the living room floor, I lost all control of my home décor.  It seems mum’s tacky mantle wreath, with its dusty holly sprigs and fake bulbous grape clusters, is a sentimental favourite with my kids.  Along with her 1950’s plastic Santa, its unintentional bobble head leaning from too many years of misuse, and her chipped china Santa boot, filled again with more plastic greenery, our home has more of my mother’s spirit at Christmastime than at any other time of the year.  And I guess that’s okay by me.

Besides, truth be told, I’m a sucker for a bulbous grape cluster any day.

  1. nantubre
    nantubre says:

    I say Yes, Andie. Bring back the days of old! After my mom passed away, my little sister wanted her Christmas deco more than the rest of us. A little part of me regrets that decision! Merry Christmas to you and yours…

    • Andie Duncan
      Andie Duncan says:

      Funny, I remember my sister and I divvying up most of her Christmas ornaments, but the wreath went with me. I guess my sister wasn’t that sentiMENTAL! Merry Christmas to you too Nan … 🙂

  2. thewritertracy
    thewritertracy says:

    This really made me smile. Just Saturday I’d decided to trash the wreath my mom-in-law presented me with 22 years ago. The thing is falling apart-it’s lost most of its previously attached pine cones and the tree in the middle is barely attached. It’s heart shaped tree ornaments with our names on them include our deceased dog. My kids had a complete fit, saying it was their favorite thing. So up on the fireplace mantel went the dilapidated wreath complete with our deceased dog’s name and my youngest kid slapped up a paper heart with our current dog’s name on it. Oh the joys of traditions, Merry Christmas!

  3. mewhoami
    mewhoami says:

    Submissiveness in children is becoming quite rare these days. I like the old fashioned parenting style. Regarding the sentimental ornaments and decorations, I’m the same way. I would love to get new ones, but can’t seem to break away from the old, cracked and glued back together ones that I’ve had for so many years. Maybe one day, I’ll have one of those magazine looking decorated trees, but until this I guess I’ll be sporting my raggedy well-loved ornaments.

  4. KerryCan
    KerryCan says:

    I like a Christmas with a sense of history and nostalgia–no Pinterest-perfect holidays for me! So, I really applaud your commitment to the well-loved!

  5. neilirving
    neilirving says:

    Funny how Christmas decoration traditions start after a number of house moves we always decorate the same, always slightly disappointed that the house does not ever smell the same as my mum and dad’s when growing up, all the tinsel and fake tree and a silver tree at that all had a smell of its own, mmm I can smell it now 😉

  6. Ned's Blog
    Ned's Blog says:

    I think those gaudy family heirlooms with their utterly unique shortcomings are the things we remember and cherish most because they, much like that old man, always maintain their character.