Christmas Tree Rules

December 18, 2008

I’m a dictator when it comes to decorating our Christmas tree. Blame my mother.

As free-wheeling and independent as she was in most aspects of her life, Joanie had rules and regulations aplenty this time of year. The most rigid of all was this edict: big ornaments on the bottom of the tree, smaller ones at the top.

Like many kids, if my parents said something had to be this way, I believed and did the opposite. I guess I heard The Ornament Rule invoked so many times, I came to believe it.

When my family decorated our tree recently, I kept repeating the rule to our little boy Atticus. He looked at me quizzically and tried to stray but eventually got with the program.

His mom, Suzame, who possesses the family’s design eye, tried to persuade him otherwise but to no avail. The next day, Atticus told a visitor with stern authority, “Put the big ones at the bottom!”

Thus a tradition, irrational as it may be, was passed to yet another generation. And my mother lives on in small but irrepressible ways.