The Slide Years: Christmas Tree

By Eilene Lyon

The Slide Years is a series in which I select an image my dad took from 1957-1982 with Kodachrome slide film, then I write a stream-of-consciousness essay – a sort of mini-memoir.

When we arrived in Guatemala in January 1974, Christmas was the furthest thing from our minds. But as the holiday season rolled around, we came to realize that we’d have to get used to more than just a lack of cold, snowy weather for Christmas.

There were none of those seemingly ordinary things that symbolize Christmas to so many people around the world: an evergreen tree. No carefully cultivated firs, pines or spruce trees carved into perfectly conical submission. Not one.

Instead, those crafty Guatemalans cut down completely ordinary deciduous trees, stripped them bare (leaves did not fall off in autumn there, either), and painted them silver – perhaps in some misguided attempt to make it look like a northern winter scene.

As the holiday came barreling down to the wire, we made the decision to go with the locally available décor for our living room. This “tree” was actually cobbled from two separate ones screwed together.

We strung up our big, sturdy electric lights and hung our collection of ornaments. The silver paint and floor-to-ceiling windows behind the tree echoed the colorful beams. I carefully draped the aluminum tinsel. I thought it looked pretty darn cool. My brothers declared it an abomination.

The next year we had fake fir.

33 thoughts on “The Slide Years: Christmas Tree

Add yours

  1. We moved to Puerto Rico right after Christmas of ’76. Just in time for the celebration of Three Kings Day there. While I would love to say I immersed myself in this newfound culture, the truth of the matter is it felt so odd to me. I missed the snow and the Christmas trees. There was a lot I really loved about living there, but at ten years old, I missed the traditional aspects of the holiday here at home.

    Merry Christmas Eilene

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of my favorite holiday traditions in Guatemala was everyone in the city setting off fireworks at midnight. I was born a pyro and had a blast. The smoke got so thick you could barely see the next street light down the block.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I remember making a similar tree when I was in Middle school in Mexico, as part of my Workshop Class, kind of a Home Economics class. My dad helped me collect dry branches in a forest in the outskirts of the city, and at school, I painted them white and glued some Styrofoam beads on top (you are right, trying to make it look like snow). I went for a minimalistic look with all-red glass balls hanging from red ribbons. I think those were actually trendy in the mid 1970s, at least in Mexico, but as Christmas décor, not the main Christmas tree. Thank you for triggering this memory, Eilene, Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

Please share your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

Rhyme Schemes and Daydreams

Things That Interest Me

Women Writing the West

Writing about experiences of women and girls in the North American West.

Author J.v.L. Bell

Exploring the Past to Improve the Future

Climbing, Outdoors, Life!


Travels Galore


Strolling around SE Michigan & sending joy in the journey.

Tofino Photography

Professional Wildlife, Landscape and Seascape Photography

Notes from a Western Life

The Windbreak House Blog by Linda M. Hasselstrom

The Letters

Louise Mabey

Smart Canyon Genealogy

Viewing family trees from 8500 feet

Absurdist Fiction


The Chiddicks Family Tree

Every Family has a story to tell..........Welcome to mine

Crossed Eyes and Dotted Tees

Writing, Blogging and Books

One Woman's Quest II

Navigating life through grandparenthood, chronic illness, dream work, and other inspirations

One Woman's Quest

Passion for writing ignites my soul's momentum

Opening Doors in Brick Walls

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” ~ Alexander Graham Bell

Clio the History Muse

Thoughts about teaching and learning history

The Yoga Cowgirl

Live fully and have fun doing so...

%d bloggers like this: