December 9, 2013

Angel hair and Christmas

I would like to thank all of you who came by the Bowie Grille on Saturday to help me officially launch Roses and Daisies and Death, Oh My. The day was a great success. Not only was I surrounded by family, but neighbors and old friends and new friends managed to find time only weeks before Christmas to share the day with me. I can't tell you how much it meant to have you all there. Thank you so much.

And because Christmas is only days away I am going to tell a little Christmas story about the year we put angel hair on the tree. Sounds pretty, doesn't it?

Now, my father was a nut about Christmas. We had no money to speak of and really didn't get much in the way of gifts, but that didn't matter. It just meant so much to him, from decorating the tree to arranging the gifts under it, to hanging our socks at the end of our beds, that we could have gotten socks and underwear and we'd think we had gone to heaven.

He was very big into decorating the tree. It was an art. The tree itself usually looked like one Charlie Brown might have rejected, but we loved it anyway. Lights were strung with care. Ornament placement was crucial. Tinsel was put on strand by strand.

It was an exciting night. We'd have a bath and put on our new pajamas. My mother made all of our clothes and we always had new pajamas for Christmas. By this time, Dad had wired the tree to the wall (we had cats and they tended to climb) and had gotten the lights on. Then it was our turn to put on the ornaments and finish up with tinsel.

But this particular year, tinsel was edged out by Angel Hair. Some marketing genius placed it front and center in the Christmas decorations aisle. And my Dad bought it. It looked great - elegant, wispy clouds of gossamer fluff. We were thrilled. Putting tinsel on strand by strand can be tedious for an adult. For little kids it was a royal pain. This stuff didn't need that kind of precision. My brother, Tim, and my sister, Chris, and I took it out of its package and started strewing. Then we started itching. And then we started crying.

The marketing genius had forgotten to mark clearly on the label that Angel Hair was made of spun fiberglass and, in the wrong hands - well, any hands really - it cut like little knives and itched like the devil.

So the new pajamas came off and we once again hopped into the tub while Dad took the angel hair off the tree with a few choice words and threw it in the trash. We went to bed still itching.

I look back fondly on that night. I have no idea why. Maybe it's the lesson that we learned - never tinker with tradition. Or maybe it's just that I've forgotten most of those past Christmas's and this is the one I remember. Whichever, for about a minute and a half we had a tree fit for heaven, even though it ended up, probably with the marketing genius, in another place entirely.


  1. I remember grandma HAD to have angel hair. I never knew why and also never went near the stuff, yet every year her tree was plastered in the stuff and it looked good. I never saw her put it on and I never saw anyone take it off...come to think of it, I never saw the same ornaments two years in a row...maybe that is what was actually in the basement I never visited.

  2. Geez... I thought I was the only one with the horrible angel hair experience. My mother insisted on it, and getting it off was worse than putting it on. I do remember one year my dad did toss the tree as it, ornaments and lights and all, because he didn't want to deal with that angel hair again.

    All angel should be offended that that stuff is associated with them!

  3. Austin, you gave me a good laugh on a day when I needed one. And you're right, no angel in his/her right mind would have hair like that.