Oh, Christmas Tree

The first Christmas tree I put up in our first apartment was an affront to taste.

I made blue and silver bows from ribbon and stuck them all over the tree and then loaded it with blue and silver balls with so much glitter it looked like Barbie puked on it. I assume Barbie vomits glitter and poops sweet-tarts.

I then made a giant blue and silver ribbon that adorned the very top of the tree. I stepped back and said, “This tree is beautiful and doesn’t look at all like the bastard lovechild of Gaudy and Garish.” My new husband, a newly minted permanent resident at the time, stepped back and probably thought, “America hurts my eyes and I wish my wife would stop trying to get me to say ‘focus'”

Each year since, my tree has become less “BOOM! [glitter spray]” and more an inviting, warmly lit tree filled with handmade or classic ornaments that have meaning to me and/or my children and husband. The garland is made of red and green wooden beads and the tree is filled with snowflakes, angels, reindeer and knitted mittens in addition to the occasional handmade-at-school ornament made with love.

This year, we added two new completely unique ornaments to the tree thanks to the awesome folks over at The Pittsburgh Glass Center, where in addition to glass-making classes, once a month you can spend 10 minutes making your very own crafts. At their invitation, I headed down with my son to try one of their Make-it-Now workshops.

Here I am looking inquisitive in safety glasses while learning about how red and white mixed will make a yucky brown color, so don’t choose those two.

(photo courtesy of Nathan J. Shaulis)

When I blew my ornament, I kept taking little breaths, afraid I would make a mistake and cause exploding glass to litter the place.

But when my son made his, he acted like he was in charge of personally sending a rocket into orbit with just the sheer force of his lungs.

His ornament, it turned out, is bigger than mine.

He chose green and red swirled while I chose red and blue swirled. We picked them up a few days later, tied some ribbon on them and now we have two new ornaments to go with our new memories.

I can’t encourage you enough to check the Glass Center out. Their next Make-it-Now workshop is in January where you can make glass beads and tiles, but I’m particularly excited for the February workshop celebrating Valentine’s Day.

Now, I’m going to go see if I can find pictures of that hideously decorated Christmas tree, but I imagine those photographs committed suicide from the self-hate by now.


  1. Emily
    December 10, 2010 3:12 pm

    Yay!! I love the Glass Center! I took students there for a field trip one year and the artists were great with them. They had a really cool exhibit going on and gave the kids a tour before a glass blowing demo. After, they got to make their own paperweights which they got a kick out of. I’d really recommend PGC to anyone looking for something different to do in the city.

  2. Sam@PGC
    December 10, 2010 3:41 pm

    So glad you had fun! And your first creations are gorgeous!

  3. Princess Aurora
    December 10, 2010 3:42 pm

    Ummm. Why weren’t we invited????? Could you imagine L in a glass center? Talk about shattered glass.

  4. Jill
    December 10, 2010 4:01 pm

    Those are beautiful. I just hung the last two remaining glass bulbs that my children and I made in 1995, clear glass that we poured paint inside, swirled around and dumped out to dry.

    My (now 20 year old) daughter found 3/4 of a foam star with her handprint in it from Kindergarten and said “when I get my own apartment, this is my first ornament” (I was thinking….nuh uh…that is MINE!)


  5. Butcher's Dog
    December 10, 2010 4:25 pm

    As a fashion note, and perhaps bucdaddy and others will weigh in on this issue: When wearing horizontal stripes in a picture to be posted on the blog, the arms should be folded/held behind the back, not in front of the chest. That is, of course, if you wish to sharpen the attention of your readers of the male persuasion. As usual, just sayin’.

  6. Jessica Marie
    December 10, 2010 10:33 pm

    Wow, those are beautiful. I’m so jealous; I had planned to go but something else cropped up at the last minute.

  7. CarolineFB
    December 11, 2010 12:06 am

    Is that Jack Nicholson in the background of the first picture?

  8. bucdaddy
    December 11, 2010 1:27 am

    Right here, B.D.

    I was thinking that her body language in that photo says she’d rather be anywhere else and doing anything else than listening to the instructor. Her head tilt says, “Yes, yes, I want you to think I’m trying to absorb this information” while the rest says “Sh*t, I’m missing Oprah for THIS doofus?”


    “When I blew my ornament, I kept taking little breaths, afraid I would make a mistake and cause exploding glass to litter the place.”

    That gave me a har … nah, really, I shouldn’t be that juvenile.

  9. bucdaddy
    December 11, 2010 1:30 am

    Also, that second photo? Reminds me that I needed surgery more or less exactly one year ago.

    Thanks, thanks a lot.

  10. Another Jill
    December 11, 2010 6:35 am

    @Bucdaddy. LOL!

  11. lisa
    December 11, 2010 8:35 am

    My husband LOVES ornaments, so each year we get new ones, my tree has not theme, but it has so many ornaments that you are lucky to see any tree. Our tradition, every year, “ya know what that tree needs doncha? MORE ORNAMENTS!”
    I cant wait to check out the glass center how cool

  12. Butcher's Dog
    December 11, 2010 5:27 pm

    Hows come bucdaddy and I are the only two not talking about the glass? Just curious.

  13. Michelle
    December 12, 2010 10:28 am

    Oh man, you crack me up! I look forward to you every day. I was resting my eyes in my lazyboy last night, all cozy by the fire with the History Channel and my husband, when all of a sudden I hear crashing sounds and my hubby yelling, “Look out Michelle!”…down came our tree..right on me. Lost some pretty special stuff..a glass ornament from Norway that my husband picked up years ago on a trip..a cute little Ocra Angel my daughter made when she was 3..and amongst the chaos we found some offending body parts..an arm from a Hallmark Barbie and a leg from a Fitz and Floyd reindeer..both just kinda laying there waiting for reattachment. Stuff, it was just stuff. And stuff is replaceable. Thanks for doing what you do and know I wish you the very very best on Las Velas..Merry Christmas!

  14. Woy
    December 12, 2010 12:13 pm


  15. Jim
    December 12, 2010 7:46 pm

    James Worthy? Is that like sponge worthy? ;)

  16. bucdaddy
    December 13, 2010 12:14 am

    Yes, those pants DO make your hips look big.


  17. Cathy
    December 16, 2010 7:08 pm

    Glass Center! Yeah! one of pittsburgh’s treasures… Love that class have taken it a couple of times. I have made some of my favorite ornaments there. You should try the pumpkin making before Thanksgiving next year.