It does not matter what I am searching for, my husband always seems to be able to conjure it up from one of our old barns. So, it came as no surprise when I was pining after the aluminum foil tree of my childhood and he said, “I think we still have the one that belonged to my Mom. It’s in the barn.”
Fast forward two hours, and you will find me sitting on the floor in the open area between our den and kitchen. Years of extreme heat and cold in the barn attic destroyed the integrity of the box. Every paper sleeve dissolved into dust in my hands as I unpacked and sorted the foil limbs by length. It was a slow process, as I tried to avoid breaking any of the fragile strands of metal foliage. The sales receipt inside the box was dated 1961. I sneezed and sneezed, then become a mouth-breather as my sinuses protested. My husband sprawled on the sofa, watching football on the den television. The room was growing dark with the approach of evening, but neither of us wanted to move from our spots to turn on a lamp. Suddenly, he sat upright and asked, “What is that awful smell?” We both jumped up to investigate. It didn’t take long to find the source of the stench. The interior crevices of the cardboard tree box were filled with stink bugs, a common menace of the south. The warm indoor temperatures prompted them to take their families out for a stroll – inside our home.
Fast forward again, and you’ll see me outdoors, setting fire to a smelly vacuum cleaner bag and a dilapidated cardboard box. But the tree itself? The tree is lovely. The original instructions are explicit in forbidding the use of electric lights. But in 1961, holiday lights were the fat bulbs that generated tons of heat. A single burned out bulb made the entire strand go dark. From there, it was hunt and replace until the bad bulb was located. I decorated ours with tiny white LEDs and blue ornaments. Lovely.