The High WASP Christmas Tree And Its Friends



High WASPs are, as my mother would say, big pills about Christmas trees. About all Christmas decorations, actually. No matter how evolved we fancy ourselves, come Christmas, we revert.

We don’t believe Christmas decorations are decor. They are symbols. They are family. As such, to be revered, experienced for meaning, and rarely changed. Everything has to be highly traditional, as in, the way your grandmother did it, or completely kitsch*. As in the lit-up Santa I bought on West 14th Street in Manhattan that flashed red and played a digital version of Jingle Bells.

Christmas tree lights? Um, white. They can be shaped like pine cones if you like. Or little candles on branches. Colors? Um, red, green, gold, even silver, if you feel daring. Theme? Um, Christmas?

We put angels up even when we’re not religious. Especially those from our grandmother’s Austro-Hungarian 2nd husband. He didn’t give us his family’s court sword. Would have been tough to hang on a tree, no?


Ornaments? Anything you like. Just don’t let them match. Stuff made by kids, by you, bought at the Stanford Shopping Center, bought the year you moved into your new house, bought the year you moved out. Fish. Fish are good. They are however, as my son once said to the great amusement of my best friend, dumb. From Gumps, home of the greatest traditional glass ornaments ever.


Other decorations? As long as you adhere to the principles above, anything goes. A creche? Sure. Hand-carved and from another culture, even better. Garlands of greenery? Sure, especially ones that smell good and are tied with plaid bows. Red and green plaid bows, goes without saying. Tiffany bowls full of ornaments on your table? Yes*. Again, have to be red, green, gold or, well, you get the picture. We apologize but we cannot countenance aqua at Christmas. Or lavender. Blue is OK and Hannukah is great and if you have a cultural holiday with a color association that falls around Christmas just let us know. We will support you and celebrate you. But Christmas is red and green and gold, and, well, you get the picture.


Want something new? 2010 appears to beg for resurgence and reemergence all around? Mix high and low. Handmade and mass market. Tell a story that reminds you of Christmas. Which to us means home. In this case, home, not house. Sometimes house decorations do make home. Clear? No? Like I said, we’re kind of pills about Christmas. But good with making sure you have enough to drink. And enough light to read by. Me, I’m building a little imaginary Scandinavian village. Where elves live under the shade of pink glass tree-ish things. Happy Holidays to all. Don’t mind us. Another glass of Scotch and we’ll be quiet.

Chubby elf house handmade by even*cleveland, 2009. Glass tree, Target, 2007.

*Town and Country Mom does this too..
**For a peak experience in this approach, go to kidchamp.net

29 Comments

  • 12/22/09
    9:24 am

    Reply

    Legallyblondemel said...

    I distrust Christmas decor that looks too "Martha"-style done. As my family did, I do red, green, gold, and kitschy, the more history behind the ornament, the better.

  • 12/22/09
    9:59 am

    Reply

    Miss Whistle said...

    The chubby elf house gets me every time.

    I'm a fan of silver with red at Christmas time. This must be an English thing, but definitely no on aqua or lavender.

    Ho ho ho & all that,

    Miss W x

  • 12/22/09
    10:04 am

    Reply

    Town and Country Mom said...

    Dear LPC,

    Of course I am smiling as I look at the photos of your tree. We have the same pinecone lights, the satin covered balls with the pearl pushpins (which the Mister's great aunt made), old glass ornaments, a leather camel from Egypt, and lots of child-made decorations. To top it off, a perfectly awful plastic star–but it was Granddad's. Thanks so much for the mention! Enjoy your Scotch!

  • 12/22/09
    10:45 am

    Reply

    Maya said...

    I have to hang fish next year! Gumps' sea ornaments are adorable.

    Have a very Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year.

  • 12/22/09
    10:53 am

    Reply

    Deja Pseu said...

    Your tree and decorations are lovely.

    My mother had a "no tinsel" rule. She had plastic icicles that she'd purchased in 1955 right after she and my dad got married. One year in the 70's, we discovered they glow in the dark. Wish I knew what happened to those…

    But yes, everything red and green, some scary reindeer sculptures on the mantle (picture reindeer as conceived by El Greco), some pine boughs scattered on various horizontal surfaces, and at least two open boxes of See's candy at any given time.

  • 12/22/09
    11:07 am

    Reply

    LPC said...

    Oooh. I forgot the candies part:). And gingerbread.

  • 12/22/09
    12:24 pm

    Reply

    Maureen@IslandRoar said...

    Well, I must say I didn't expect the High Wasp tree to be so family and user-friendly. My apologies.
    Love the fish ornament! And bowls of festive ball, gotta have 'em!

  • 12/22/09
    12:51 pm

    Reply

    Sher said...

    It's all about family. Beautiful Christmas tree!

  • 12/22/09
    1:05 pm

    Reply

    Town and Country Mom said...

    I've been informed that the above link is actually to a post about a gift wrapping party. To see the "bowl of balls" and other Southern low wasp decoration visit http://townandcountrymom.blogspot.com/2009/12/boughs-of-holly.html Thanks again, LPC.

  • 12/22/09
    1:33 pm

    Reply

    LPC said...

    Oops. I will change it.

  • 12/22/09
    2:18 pm

    Reply

    BonjourRomance said...

    The little ornaments handmade with care by the little ones are always the best!
    Wishing you a very Merry red, green and gold Christmas!

  • 12/22/09
    2:27 pm

    Reply

    88highburycorner said...

    I love your blog, I think I've been to your Christmas before… what about the size of the tree? In my family it was always the bigger and fuller the better…

    Cheers and have a lovely Christmas.

  • 12/22/09
    2:35 pm

    Reply

    QueenBeeSwain said...

    the family silver always shines a bit brighter this time of the year, doesn't it?! LOVE the ornaments in the silver bowl. LOVE. Also- your Q&A on all things cashmere was amazing and is my future go-to whenever anyone needs to know everything about it!

    xoox

    kHm

  • 12/22/09
    4:01 pm

    Reply

    Headbands and Hand Bags said...

    You could not have put it better, or painted a more perfect holiday picture! Happy holidays!!

  • 12/22/09
    4:04 pm

    Reply

    Duchesse said...

    That would be straight WASPS, LPC? GASPs will do aqua, or gold and silver, or even coordinated ornaments.

    In my parents' time they would never defer to the safe "Happy Holidays". Merry Christmas, L!

  • 12/22/09
    8:16 pm

    Reply

    hostess of the humble bungalow said...

    Trees and decor….LPC, you and I share much!
    I have the silver bowl, not monogrammed, local silversmith. Lots of silver…see my last post! Family silver!
    I have the baubles, no fish…vintage birds with feathery tails.
    HIGH WASP turns RETROGRADE…Humble Bungalow goes out on a limb and adds more lighting to the dark wainscoting with the help of fairy lights.
    Are we having fun yet?

  • 12/22/09
    9:09 pm

    Reply

    Anonymous said...

    Funny, I didn't find anything surprising in this post, but I feel rebellious. Right now, my decorations are red, gold and green. That's because I have a housemate that would break out in hives if I decorated in my colors. I would love turquoise, silver, and pinkish-red, with some lime-green thrown in. I saved a magazine photo of a Christmas tree belonging to a woman who was the president of Waterford in the U.S., I think. And her tree was full of aqua-turquoise Waterford ornaments. They reminded me of little planets.

  • 12/22/09
    9:32 pm

    Reply

    Mary Jo from TrustYourStyle said...

    Lisa, thanks for stopping by tys even though I haven't been able to comment on your blog for so long–I'm using the vio tonight instead of the mac, so I'm hoping this will work. I just wanted to say that I love green trees, wreaths, etc. for christmas and couldn't believe how many of your ornaments down to the angel looked just like the ones at my house growing up.

    Hope you are having a very merry christmas!
    xo Mary Jo

  • 12/22/09
    9:43 pm

    Reply

    SLynnRo said...

    I'm not a fan of super matchy trees either.

  • 12/22/09
    11:48 pm

    Reply

    Jeanne said...

    We love Christmas ornaments, the more the merrier. White lights is my first rule and memories follow as they are displayed before being hung. We started a tradition of buying an ornament for each of our four children so that they could have a collection when they set up their own tree someday. We display them all every year. Twenty years on and we have more than I could count! Lucky for us that they are still coming home for Christmas! Love your blog..Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas…
    Jeanne

  • 12/23/09
    3:21 am

    Reply

    Jill said...

    Gump's…my kind of retail heaven!

  • 12/23/09
    7:31 am

    Reply

    What a Splurge said...

    My biggest requirement for Christmas lights: they must twinkle. They must not race or flash.

  • 12/23/09
    9:40 am

    Reply

    LPC said...

    I think a little rebellion, done with ultimate taste or none at all, is what keeps traditions flourishing. As in the rule is strengthened by its exception. Ornaments every year are a lovely tradition. And I have trouble with flashing too. Life is exciting enough without flashing lights.

  • 12/23/09
    12:34 pm

    Reply

    Tish Jett said...

    Precisely. Always white lights, but the rest is a mess of relics collected over the years with sentimental references. In fact, we add one of those things every year.

    One year when I was a little girl our basement flooded and years and years of ornaments were inundated. I thought my mother would never recover.

    Loved this post. Love all your posts.

    Also, I'm always thrilled to see when you've visited.

    Merci encore for adding joy to the season chez moi.

    Tishxo

  • 12/23/09
    2:32 pm

    Reply

    Bumby said...

    Love the tree. The one thing missing is the tinsel, Grandad would wait until everyone was asleep and then place one at a time ,a single piece of silver and gold tensel every two inches(someone measured one year).As a child it was magicial. And it still is.

    Bumby

  • 12/23/09
    9:03 pm

    Reply

    Buckeroomama said...

    I love the bowl of ornaments.

    Have a wonderful Christmas with your family.

  • 12/24/09
    6:45 am

    Reply

    Reggie Darling said...

    You nailed it again. I grew up in such a household, but being the "artistic" son I was never quite satisfied with my parent's mix of "dime store" and "it's been in the family since the 1930s so we must put it out" Christmas. The unspoken rule was don't go to much effort at all, snigger at those who do (TTH), and drink your way through the disappointment and settling of old scores…that way you won't remember much of it the next morning. Being 100% WASP myself I am happy to report that there are those of us who broke ranks and actually don't use granny's pre-war German ornaments (unless we like them), and have banished the color red altogether when decorating our houses for Christmas. Check out my blog over the next several days and see what that means as I post about decorating our house, Darlington…

  • 12/28/09
    7:35 pm

    Reply

    Mouse said...

    A very merry Christmas to you!

    I like your mismatchy tree. Ours is mismatchy too, but in more colors (since only half of us are WASPs).

    xoxo

  • 01/02/10
    8:19 am

    Reply

    Lauren said...

    It is so funny to read your posts where you examine something that I would never think of examining. Because Christmas to me just means red, gold, and green. Period. And for the Christmas tree – the bigger the better!

    Great post!

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  1. […] what we have. However, there’s still space on tables and counters. Past finds included these elf houses, groovy glass trees from Target, and a set of little wooden carol singers that were souvenirs from […]

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