The year 1994 brought a huge change in my life: I was in a rut and had to do something to get my life back on track. My getting-out-of-the-rut adventure brought me to Winooski, Vermont.
I was hired by a prestigious law firm in Burlington and set up residence in The Woolen Mill. The Mill, built in 1881, was an actual operating mill at one time. It closed in 1954 and many years later was restored to feature unique loft-style apartments. The original columns were sand blasted and each apartment featured the original brick walls and expansive windows. My apartment had two bedrooms and two baths plus the loft—plenty of room for my boys when they came to visit.
The first major visit was Christmas that first year in Vermont. Matt and Helen and my two grand-babies Kala and Mattman flew up from Florida, and George, Paul, Joe and Mom drove up from White Plains. Because of the high ceiling in the living room, I purchased a 7-ft. artificial tree. We had the best time putting it together and decorating; with the many lights and decorations and ornaments, it was a fantasy tree.
Several weeks after Christmas, after all the festivities were over and everyone had traveled back to their homes, I got ready to dismantle the tree. While up in the loft getting boxes, I gazed down at this sparkling confection. “I am not taking it down. It fills that corner by the window so beautifully; I am going to leave it.” I did remove the ornaments, but left the several hundred twinkle lights. Each night after work, I’d turn on the tree, put my feet up, have a glass of wine and enjoy the soft, warm cozy feeling.
When February arrived, I loaded the tree with hearts and cupids and had a Valentine’s party for friends. They loved the tree and said they couldn’t wait for St. Patrick’s Day. Yep, that Day the tree was laden with shamrocks and leprechaun hats, and I had another party. Now, my friends were anticipating the next holiday and really getting into the spirit of my “tree for all seasons.”
“You can’t ever take this tree down; we’ve had some of the greatest parties decorating for each season,” said one friend.
Next was Easter. I bought bags of colored plastic eggs and hung them from the branches. For this party, my friends brought additional ornaments and chocolate eggs and bunnies. There must have been a huge sugar rush that day! After Easter Sunday, I removed the eggs and put artificial flowers on the tree. Along the base of the tree, I set up a very small white picket fence and added silk potted flowers. I now had my spring garden—no weeding or watering!
My most popular tree was the Independence Day tree. Friends and I decorated with tons of flags and anything red, white and blue. We were in high gear and super patriotic.
My tree for all seasons started as personal enjoyment for me, but soon became an event which my friends looked forward to and which we enjoyed together. I moved back to New York many years ago but am still in touch with several of my Vermont pals. They haven’t forgotten the tree for all seasons, and they remember the fun and friendship decorating it brought, not to mention being creative!