Christmas Tree Lane in Oxnard

By R.S. Rodriguez

When I was about 14 years old and my father was 60, we planted a blue spruce on the front lawn. It was about a six-foot sapling.  After two years or so as it became stronger and its roots were better established, my mother asked me to hang about a half dozen large Christmas ornaments she had purchased at a yard sale.  I didn’t realize at the time that doing so would be the beginning of a 34 (and counting) year tradition.

As the tree grew, so did my mother’s pursuit of ornaments. She would purchase them at garage and yard sales, flea markets and small and large retail stores, alike (but only after the Holidays when the prices were relatively reasonable, as some of the decorations still in boxes before the holidays would cost between $10-$25, depending on the brand and size).  Eventually, especially after the holidays, my siblings, sisters and brothers-in-law and I would stumble upon good buys and purchase, accordingly.  We adhered to a stern policy, though: never spend more than four dollars on an individual ornament.

A few years later I left for university in San Francisco and lived there for many years after I graduated.  Upon my return to spend Christmas annually with the family, I was always asked by my mother to decorate the spruce.  Each time I’d begin the process by lowering the large plastic bags filled with ornaments (which we stored in the garage rafters).  And each time I returned for the holidays, I noticed we had accumulated more and more ornaments.

Our family’s home is located on a relatively busy street in southern California.  Hundreds of cars and dozens of school children pass our home and the tree daily during the Christmas season, as our home is nestled between two elementary schools. Drivers have been honking, giving thumbs up and yelling out the windows as they pass with shouts of “beautiful!” and “that’s awesome!” for many years as we’ve gone through the process of decorating the tree.  The kids stroll by and look with glee.

Strangers have knocked on our front door a few times over the years and have graciously given us some of their larger ornaments as a reflection of their appreciation of our efforts to bring holiday cheer to our street and neighborhood.  Their gestures are of course appreciated.

This year marks about the 34th anniversary of this tradition.  The spruce is now about 50 foot high and we have accumulated, purchased and obtained over 340 ornaments.  What began so many years ago with six ornaments has now evolved into a three day process (this season, I rewired each and every ornament, using more than 350 feet of galvanized wire.  That’s more than the length of a football field).

My father passed away earlier this year and I’m almost 50 years old.   Once I prepared the ornaments and began to hang them on the branches, I kept reflecting on that day so many years ago when my father and me planted the tree.  It was the only time over all those years where I found myself periodically becoming emotional while standing on a 12 foot ladder.