Our Christmas 'Tree' In The 1940s.

By Jabo
@jaboUK (53920)
United Kingdom
December 20, 2015 11:33am CST
During my childhood in WW2 goods were in short supply, and that included Christmas trees. Dad was a soldier away at the war, so it was up to my mother to do the best she could to ensure that we three little girls had a good Christmas. We had an old lilac tree in our strip of garden, and every year Mum would cut a branch from it, and this became our 'tree'. This branch would then be placed in a bucket which had coloured paper round it, and a fairy which had been salvaged from pre-war years was placed on top. We thought that fairy magical. We had none of the fancy baubles you see nowadays, and of course no lights. Mum showed us how to make little lanterns out of paper (before anyone had ever heard of the word 'origami'), and these we coloured and used as tree decorations. Then she would fashion Father Christmas and angels and various animals out of cardboard, and we would lovingly colour them in before choosing a place for them on the tree. It's a testimony to my mother's ingenuity and love for us that we never felt deprived. I think we probably had more fun out of our homemade tree than children get today from their fancy ones. Image from Pixabay.
52 people like this
51 responses
@much2say (39153)
• United States
20 Dec 15
Aww - I loved reading that! It's not about how fancy schmancy a tree is - it's about the spirit! These lovely but humble family moments are simply the best!
6 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
20 Dec 15
@much2say When things weren't readily available it's amazing how inventive we get. We certainly didn't miss out on the Christmas spirit.
4 people like this
@much2say (39153)
• United States
20 Dec 15
@jaboUK Yes - I think that's what makes us creative - when we have to make do with what we have. And as much as kids have it "better" these days, I think that makes them less creative.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
20 Dec 15
@much2say The old adage is true - 'necessity is the mother of invention'.
3 people like this
@BelleStarr (38214)
• United States
21 Dec 15
Your mother was quite amazing, She managed with what she had at hand and made Christmas very special for her girls.
6 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
21 Dec 15
@BelleStarr She certainly did. She made dolls and teddy bears out of odds and ends for us too.
7 people like this
@BelleStarr (38214)
• United States
21 Dec 15
@jaboUK I am in awe of all the things she was able to do. My mother was not creative in that way. She could however make a great meal with very little money.
7 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
21 Dec 15
@BelleStarr I haven't inherited my mother's abilities I'm afraid. Your mother was creative in her own way
4 people like this
@marlina (73885)
• Canada
20 Dec 15
I love to read about your stories. I hope that you will write more like this.
5 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
20 Dec 15
@marlina Thanks, I'm happy that you like reading about my memories. I do have another all written up - it was part of this post but would have made it too long. It's about how Mum used to make all our dolls etc. and other aspects of Christmas in those days - I may post it in a couple of days, depending on whether enough people seem interested in this kind of thing.
7 people like this
@sueznewz2 (9969)
• Alicante, Spain
20 Dec 15
@jaboUK I hope you do....
4 people like this
• United States
21 Dec 15
@jaboUK please write that post. I'd love to read about the dolls your mom made
2 people like this
@MALUSE (40074)
• Germany
20 Dec 15
Children don't miss what they don't know and aren't envious if there's nobody to compete with. My childhood in post-war GDR (German Democratic Republic) was also poor objectively. But I never thought of it as such.
5 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
20 Dec 15
@MALUSE You are quite right - you don't miss what you've never had.
3 people like this
• Greece
21 Dec 15
In those days we did not look further afield than our close friends and neighbours and we all had much the same things in common. We did not make comparisons because there was little or no TV and everything was black and white, including the cinema.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
21 Dec 15
@41CombedaleRoad You are so right - we weren't in competition in those days.
2 people like this
@jstory07 (66979)
• Roseburg, Oregon
21 Dec 15
That sounds like you had a lot of fun with your mother at Christmas time. I make ornaments and paperchains with the young children in my family.
5 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
21 Dec 15
@jstory07 That's interesting that you do that, I bet the children love it.
1 person likes this
• Ireland
21 Dec 15
This reminds me of when 15 years ago, I used to have a real live Christmas tree indoors every year. It wasn't a spruce or fir tree but a Lawson's cypress, about 6 feet tall ( a species of conifer which I now detest). For 3 years running, I dug up the tree, planted it in a large bucket of soil and then replanted it after Christmas. Eventually it developed strong roots and top growth as if to resist being dug up, so I had to give up bringing it indoors.
@ataboy (755)
• United States
21 Dec 15
I've never heard of or thought of that idea, of moving a Christmas tree like that back and forth. I'm sure it's probably just me living under a rock or whatever, but it's an interesting Idea - even with the tremendous hassle that you were sure to vividly provide! So it just became too much work to dig up and so you simply gave in! That doesn't sound like you, @EugenesDDen! My first thought was, why not plant it closer to the house originally and create an extendable room that can act as your indoor Christmas display area! Whaa!? how simple would a few retractable walls and a ceiling that is capable of sealing to the walls water/airtight! I actually started a Christmas tree farm one year located about a two-hours drive from my home, and on my buddies huge farm property where he could assist with a lot of the uptake. They grew almost as tall as the common store tree, what is that like 6' or so probably...well mine grew to about 5'5" or so. The I got a call early one morning (like 3-4am) my friend was frantic, lightning struck in two locations and almost entirely burned down the rather damp trees! I think I ended up going from like 2.5k trees to barely 500 short guys with their eyebrows a little bit singed! That was not fun, but I enjoyed the whole concept of tying to build something and get into business, as I was pretty young and It's held my excitement ever since - even though it was so crazy - and it happened probably a month before tree season actually started. But being an optimist, I knew it had to be all uphill from there...Turns out I'm more of a realist now!
4 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
21 Dec 15
@EugenesDIYDen I tried that planting and digging up business soon after I was married, but it wasn't a success. Why do you hate that conifer ?- I hate my neighbour's though I'm not sure what variety it is. It grows so quickly and keeps the sun off my garden.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
21 Dec 15
@ataboy Wow, that was annoying for you to lose all those trees.
2 people like this
@celticeagle (118231)
• Boise, Idaho
20 Dec 15
I feel like I had a rich and bountiful Christmas compared to yours. But in so many ways a holiday is so much more special when the things that make it a normal holiday are made by hand and not readily available.
4 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
20 Dec 15
@celticeagle Yes, it was much more special , and we felt so proud to see things we'd made ourselves on the tree.
3 people like this
@celticeagle (118231)
• Boise, Idaho
20 Dec 15
@jaboUK ....My grandmother had us save wrapping paper and tinsel from year to year. And we always made chains and things at school that went on the tree.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
20 Dec 15
@celticeagle We made chains too, to put across the ceiling.
2 people like this
• United States
20 Dec 15
You are most likely correct in your assumption. Too many kids have far too much stuff to value any of it.
4 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
20 Dec 15
@ElizabethWallace You've hit the nail on the head - I have great nieces and nephews for whom I can't buy anything - they have it all already. So they get gift vouchers. Apart from the tree, we made paper chains to be strung across the ceiling. We loved seeing things we'd made ourselves adorning the house.
3 people like this
@Juliaacv (30259)
• Canada
20 Dec 15
I never ever thought that having the "perfect" tree meant anything more then having a tree like you describe, one decorated with love and that offered hope to those that gathered around it. As a mother myself, your mother must have been something else to do all of that on her own when she must have been so frightened and so lonely for her husband, good for her.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
20 Dec 15
You are right about my mother - imagine coping with 3 small children while your husband is in dangerous situations in another country! And that war went on for 6 years, don't forget. I was born on the day my father embarked on a ship to France, and hardly saw him till I was 6 years old.
5 people like this
@Juliaacv (30259)
• Canada
20 Dec 15
@jaboUK As you know I worked in an old age home when I was younger, and most of my residents were war survivors of 1 kind or another. I have a special admiration for those ladies, and for their children.
4 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
20 Dec 15
@Juliaacv Yes I remember you talking about one particular English lady. They had to be tough and resourceful in those days.
3 people like this
@LadyDuck (157049)
• Switzerland
21 Dec 15
I remember when we painted the angels made with cardboards. I agree we had more pleasure with our simple trees than children get in our days.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
21 Dec 15
@LadyDuck It was such fun in those days wasn't it? I'm glad that know what I'm talking about regarding the cardboard angels.
3 people like this
@LadyDuck (157049)
• Switzerland
21 Dec 15
@jaboUK I loved to much to make them that I still do.
4 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
21 Dec 15
@LadyDuck You still make them? I'm afraid I don't.
3 people like this
@pgntwo (21648)
• Derry, Northern Ireland
20 Dec 15
Soldering the old run of lights we used to put on the tree was a yearly ritual, testing each join with a 9V battery and a bulb until they all lit up. We would take any damaged plastic baubles from the previous year, cut them in half and put the good half around one of the lights, to make a "spotlight" that shone down onto the presents beneath. These days, a string of good, low-voltage LED lights can be bought for less than a tenner, and they put our home-made efforts to shame.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
20 Dec 15
@pgntwo That was quite a ritual for you every year, but probably more fun?
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@pgntwo (21648)
• Derry, Northern Ireland
20 Dec 15
@jaboUK All part of the fun, yes - eventually, we had to buy a new set, they weren't cheap as I recall.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
20 Dec 15
@pgntwo I never had a Christmas tree with lights till I got married, but as you say, they weren't cheap.
2 people like this
@Morleyhunt (19750)
• Canada
21 Dec 15
I remember having just three ornaments for our Christmas tree back in About 1962.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
21 Dec 15
@Morleyhunt Did you make any yourself?
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@Morleyhunt (19750)
• Canada
21 Dec 15
@jaboUK eventually we did. I remember making a bell out of the end from a roll of wall paper. Then painting it bright yellow.
3 people like this
@DaddyEvil (24758)
• Aurora, Missouri
23 Dec 15
Well, we never did anything like that, Janet. We never had what you would call a Christmas Tree, though. We cut down an Eastern Red Cedar tree for our tree every year. W'd either hitch up one of the ponies to drag it to the house or two of the big boys would flip it up onto their shoulders and carry it to the house. When Christmas was over, one of the big boys would chop the limbs off the tree and mom would add one to the fire each morning and again in the afternoon to make the house smell like heaven!
2 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
23 Dec 15
@DaddyEvil That's a nice memory Robb. I don't know what an Eastern Red Cedar tree looks like, but it sounds good.
2 people like this
@DaddyEvil (24758)
• Aurora, Missouri
23 Dec 15
Eastern Red Cedar for Christmas. This picture belongs to me.
@jaboUK Hmmm... I don't have any pictures of one... wait a minute! I might have one. Let me look... I did have one, Janet. It was from 2001, and has Pretty in front of the tree, so I am not sure how well you will be able to see it, but I tried. I could grab one from Wikimedia Commons, if you like?
3 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
23 Dec 15
@DaddyEvil Thank you. From what I can see it doesn't look much different from a normal tree. Btw Pretty lives up to her name
2 people like this
@antonbunot (9514)
• Calgary, Alberta
20 Dec 15
@jabo I have been thinking all along that you and I were both born in the late 50's!
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@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
20 Dec 15
Flatterer!. I was born in 1939.
2 people like this
• Calgary, Alberta
20 Dec 15
@jaboUK No, I am not flattering!
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@DaddyEvil (24758)
• Aurora, Missouri
28 Dec 15
@jaboUK See! I TOLD you you didn't look your real age! Did you believe me? NOOOOO! You didn't!
1 person likes this
@kaka135 (14068)
• Malaysia
23 Dec 15
I think the Christmas tree and the decorations you made were the best! Your mum is really great!!
2 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
23 Dec 15
@kaka135 Thank you - my mum really was a wonderful woman - she's been gone for many years now but I still miss her.
2 people like this
@kaka135 (14068)
• Malaysia
23 Dec 15
@jaboUK A wonderful woman always brought up wonderful children, and I believe she will always live in your heart.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
23 Dec 15
@kaka135 So true - till the day I die.
2 people like this
@rebelann (41188)
• El Paso, Texas
21 Dec 15
I think too many kids today expect fancy, it's as if they all think it's free and so easy to get. Mom learned how to put candles on our christmas trees so we always had lights of course I was born in 1949 so the problems your mom faced were much worse than what mom faced, I was the oldest born in 49.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
21 Dec 15
@rebelann Candles were too precious to be put on Christmas trees in those days. I was the youngest, born in 1939, but there were less than three years between all of us.
2 people like this
@rebelann (41188)
• El Paso, Texas
21 Dec 15
I've read about the devastation that the UK went through in WWII @jaboUK since I was born 10 years later I really have no clue about those times.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
21 Dec 15
@rebelann I may put up some more posts from this era, we'll see.
2 people like this
@moondebi (1213)
• Bangalore, India
25 Dec 15
There is no comparison between a Christmas tree made out of love and care and that of a commercialized one.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
25 Dec 15
@moondebi You are quite right, no comparison at all.
1 person likes this
@Tampa_girl7 (25678)
• United States
23 Dec 15
What a precious memory to have.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
23 Dec 15
@Tampa_girl7 Yes, it certainly is.
1 person likes this
@Rollo1 (16689)
• Boston, Massachusetts
21 Dec 15
Sometimes I think that we were lucky as children because we didn't have everything. Because we had to make some things for ourselves, because we had to make fun for ourselves. & I know that my children don't really appreciate the Christmas tree as I do or see it as something magical as I did when I was a child. But we were always involved in decorating the tree putting it together and even going out to buy it. Life was not all gadgets and flashy gimmicks, it was about family time. It sounds like your mother really made Christmas special for you.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
21 Dec 15
@Rollo1 You are right - Christmas should be the time when families do things together. My mother did make it special, we were very lucky.
1 person likes this
@Beatburn (3912)
• Philippines
21 Dec 15
Your mom did something special that's why up until now you remember it. She made you experience the joy that the season brings.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (53920)
• United Kingdom
27 Dec 15
@Beatburn It's true that my mother made things special, and that is why I remember it so well.
1 person likes this