We call it our Christmas Tree Burl Ornament, but we should call it our Christmas tree memory chain.
I got the idea from a Mother Earth Magazine the first year we were married. Mother Earth: I guess that’s how the burl idea got planted and rooted so firmly in my mind. (okay – no more puns in this post. I promise.)
The dictionary says a burl is “a hard, woody rounded deformity in a tree, often due to an injury to the bark.” (Think burlwood coffee tables and decoupage art…Mother Earth…) Our “burls” are just slices of tree trunk.
John slices a circle from the trunk of our Christmas tree when he levels it to put it in the stand. And then we store it away to dry completely. (The burl, not the tree.)
The following year as Christmas approaches we pull out the burl and pictures from the previous year. I glue a picture from that Christmas on each flat side of the circle. We usually put a picture of the kids on one side and a picture of John and me on the other. Then we put an eye-screw in the top and the bottom of the circle, and connect them with fishing swivels.
Now, after twenty-eight years, we have a long chain of Christmas burls. Hanging down both sides of the doorway between the dining room and living room, the circles range from two inches in diameter to the size of a dessert plate. The smallest burl has a picture of chubby cheeked toddlers, reminding us of the reason we had such a tiny tree set high up on a table. The one with the biggest diameter pictures mighty hunter children who went in search of “…the tallest tree we can find – one that touches the ceiling!”
One of the pictures shows our oldest son, Matthew cutting down the pine tree that grew too big for our front yard. And the burl is from that same tree. One of them shows the kids in Christmas pageant outfits, and one of them pictures three very pale sick kids…
“This was the year such-and-such happened…” We gather around and look at the pictures and turn them over and remembe all the Christmases past.
Our Christmas Tree Burl Chain heralds the season. It’s the first ornament I hang up at Christmastime, and I believe today is the day!