I am so excited to document and share one of my family’s most loved traditions. Because my Grandmother has so many trees in her home, l am sharing her story in two parts. First, here are four rustic Christmas trees that my Grandmother and her siblings have beautifully decorated.
My grandmother has been decorating what she calls “over-the-top” Christmas for twenty years now. What began as a Christmas party in Midland, TX is now a family tradition that is well known in the paper, on Instagram and now on YouTube! Each tree is themed and has meaning and significance for my grandmother Norma.
Norma Robb Thomason is the second of seven children, 3 boys and 4 girls. Each fall, her surviving siblings come to help deck the halls, including decorating NINE Christmas trees throughout her home. It takes about three weeks to decorate. Ninety six boxes are stored in the attic when it’s all over.
Her sister Joyce and brother Jerry travel from Memphis, sister Annette comes from Missouri and Aunt Booty drives up from Austin. The night their daddy died, Grandma asked her siblings, “what are we gonna do now?” Her brother Larry answered, “we’re gonna make fudge.” Consequently, it’s a family tradition that every time they’re together, they make 6 pounds of fudge with their secret family recipe.
Pictured left: Grandma’s sisters from left to right, Annette, Joyce and Booty. On right, our annual visit from Santa – Pastors Jeff and Judy Fairchild.
Norma has five children, nine grandkids and ten great grandkids. Therefore, this tree is styled for the grandchildren and great grandchildren. It’s full of sweets, popcorn, rocking chairs and gingerbread ornaments. A sign that tops the tree reads, “Who needs Santa? I’ve got Grandma!” It sits in the family room next to Grandma’s red upholstered sofa, plenty of chairs and piles of throw blankets. This is the room you’ll find the men watching the football game and the children playing with toys on the floor.
This tree contains 269 ornaments that Grandma has hand made, including burlap bows sewn with jingle bells. She also tied checkered red bows on miniature wreaths, as well as hand made cinnamon stick ornaments. It’s loaded to the max as no other ornaments can fit, so 17 elves sit atop the built-in shelves behind the tree. The traditional colors of red and green are accented with the browns of the burlap and gingerbread men.
Each year, I love to gift my Grandmother a few pieces from the shop, From: Susie. For example, this year, we added the handmade red and white orange slice garland from the Winter Decor Box. In addition, we hung a few of our miniature bread boards onto the Gingerbread Man tree. Shop for them, here, or read how many other ways you can style them, here.
Mama’s Tree is the newest addition to the forest of Christmas trees at Norma’s house. It’s displayed in the kitchen and is full of vintage and new finds and 105 black, white and red ornaments. Norma’s mother’s silverware is wrapped in checkered napkins with little red bows. Plus, Grandmother Robb’s (Norma’s mother- in-law) cookie cutters are hung on the branches. A few years ago, I gifted my Grandmother enamel dishes from my first year as shop owner. This year, I added one of Norma’s hand-sewn aprons as a tree skirt. The serving spoon and fork are tied with a black and white checkered bow and act as the tree topper.
This tree represents Christmas in the 1940’s. Grandma and her brothers and sisters can’t remember what was on the top of the tree. However, she uses a paper hat to remind her of their daddy, Roy Jackson. He worked at the newspaper underneath the printing press. The ink dripped on their heads so the pressmen would make hats from the newspapers to catch it. Nowadays, our newspapers aren’t wide enough to make a pressman’s hat. Norma’s little brother Sammy made the paper hat for this tree. Sammy passed away this February. From their memory, their childhood tree had multi-colored lights, red balls, hand-strung popcorn, paper chains, and tinsel.
Grandma married Windell Thomason after she lost her first husband Horace to heart disease. Windell was a rancher and oilman from west Texas. He was the kindest, most loving man any one of us ever met. He would always tell Grandma how beautiful she was, and she would say “let me clean your glasses, better yet, let me leave them dirty.” The Cowboy Tree is for Windell.
This rustic Christmas tree features over 162 ornaments including six cowboy Santa dolls. Furthermore, seven horseshoes from Windell’s ranch and one from the Kentucky Derby hang on the tree! Plus, it has one mule shoe hidden in the branches. Then, one hundred and 150-year-old barbed wire wrap around the top. Finally, the cotton was hand picked by Norma on Windell’s ranch. She pulled the prettiest cotton which reminds her of picking cotton as a young girl.
I hope you loved reading the inspiration behind each of my Grandmother’s rustic Christmas trees. You can read how I decorated my Christmas tree, here. Or, get mantle styling tips, here. Lastly, be sure to come back to the blog for FIVE more elegant Christmas trees that my Grandmother has decorated in her home.