First a story.
The year was 1967. I was attending school in Minneapolis and went home to Bismarck & Mandan, North Dakota—a long and snowy 400 miles—for Christmas. The weather was bitter cold that year—40 below and lower with wind chills in the minus 80 range. [You needn't wonder why I live in Florida.]
Suffice it to say, when New Year's Eve arrived, my mother and her husband, Ed, refused to lend my stepsister Connie and I a car to go out and party. Something was said about "dangerous" and "freezing to death." Instead, the folks went out and left Connie and I to mind the motel on the off chance someone was actually out in the elements and looking for a room for the night. They also left us with a bottle of wine [theirs not ours, but who was paying attention] and instructions to disassemble the ugly, metallic Christmas tree [my words, not theirs].
You know the kind. The lighting was provided with a color wheel, and Connie and I hated the damn thing. We proceeded to take the tree apart, stowing each shiny branch in its individual cardboard tube. We stowed the decorations and packed up the color wheel. THEN, we sawed the trunk into several pieces, rendering it useless, though we thought that Papa Eddie might fix it with black tape.
Our plan was to bury it in a snow bank to be discovered in the spring, but, alas, it was way too cold outside and the snow banks far too frozen. So we put the pieces in the bottom of the box.
We announced out delinquency by singing, "Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, forever true your colors were," for days. They knew we did something, but didn't know what.
The good thing was the following year there was a green fake tree instead, however, I was living in NYC by then and couldn't go home to see it.
Other interesting yet ugly decorations:
Of course, Rob's bubble lights fall into this category. For those of you too young to know, little glass tubes—some perhaps were colored, ours weren't—were attached to Christmas bulbs. When the water in the tubes heated, it bubbled, varying the light patterns. I don't remember if they were pretty or not, but I suspect not.
Remember tinsel? It's still available, but savvy decorators use garlands instead. It was strategically critical to hang each piece of tinsel individually to assure the proper effect. Usually, it was a job assigned to the kids, which explains why there was more on the bottom of the tree than the top, and each piece was NOT individually hung. The cleanup after the hanging and the removing was remarkable, especially when mixed with dried pine needles.
Homemade popcorn garlands. Popcorn was strung using a needle and thread, then draped artistically around the tree. It usually wouldn't last the whole season, given it fell off the string or got picked off and eaten by the aforementioned children.
I still put a few vintage decorations on my little tree, having saved some of my mother's favorites. They are not particularly beautiful either, but it's a memory and a smile for people and times long past.
Meanwhile, have a joyous Christmas and holiday season.