Plucking the Peacock Tree

The Peacock Tree fully decorated
The Peacock Tree au naturel

For the first time in my life I felt like a cross between Martha Stewart and Dinah Shore–but only because being dressed for my day at the office left me  ridiculously overdressed for  the chore of taking down the rest of the tree at the Pink Palace and then carting it and loading it into the car.

Next year I will check the classifieds in the  Flyer and see if there are any young fellows  looking for roadie work. When they and their brides celebrate their first Christmas they will either  know how to be a helpful and exemplary husband–or they will know that they should schedule  a road trip with the band the weekend the tree comes down.

It was interesting to me to see just how many decorations that had been roosting in

Glass peacock figurines

the peacock tree along with the feathers. When I decorate a tree, it is sort of like painting. You don’t squeeze out “X” amount of burnt sienna, and “X” amount of cadmium yellow, and say, “There, that oughta do it.”

Instead, you add and even subtract, although I am not known for my skills of subtraction, choosing to specialize in addition and multiplying, instead.

Stack of Feathers

The first thing we did was to pluck the tree of its feathers and stack them up–they had been the last thing that I had added to the tree. And then the glass peacock figurines were removed.

Next, to neaten things up, we pulled out the fern fronds that

Feathery fern fronds

had simulated a feather shape in flora form. To me, this was the neatest part of the tree. I find the element of repetition such a comforting element of design. Perhaps I find it comforting because it is innately familiar. Or maybe it is because it is one of the first elements that we focus on as infants and toddlers. My own children loved all of their

Golden Feathers

“shape” toys and games.

Next we pulled out all of the golden feathers. They represented the glittery, fanciful rendering of the natural feathers–as they are interpreted in the imagination.

Next I pulled out the garlands  of pear-shaped faceted jewels that were dripping from the branches  in the colors of turquoise and peridot. They were on the tree to add sparkle and to reflect light. They are a bear to keep untangled because the plastic fishing line they are on wants to twirl around the gemstones. To pack these little babies up, you should lay them on a width of tissue

Ornaments of blues and greens

paper, then fold the paper over that segment, and lay down the next portion, then fold the tissue over it, and so on until the entire length is wrapped. Then just fold in half, and in half again.

I’ve decided to dispense with boxes for the balls, and just separate them by color and tissue paper in extra large unzipped, ziplock bags in  big plastic bins. They will take up less space, and for no more oogiedeeboogiedee than they go through, they will be fine.

Metalic green poinsettia

Next we pulled out the peridot colored, metallic  poinsettias that had added some shine within the tree (you could barely see them)  and the drab

Spanish moss for filler

green Spanish moss (that you barely noticed)  that had added texture and hid the thin or vacant areas of the somewhat shape-challenged tree.

Another part of the tree that I had been quite carried away with was the peacock feet at the base of the tree. Granted, no one but myself would have said, “Oh look! The tree has feet!” But to me it did.

Glittery green brandches looked like feet

Bird feet are fascinating. Think about it! Those tiny little bony feet are very strong. And they look so peculiar, although I am  sure only to us. But they do have that “my primordial grandpappy was a reptile” mystique going on.

The fabric around the base of the trunk  (and under the bony green feet) represented a nest of sorts, and was a matte gold satin taffeta and a tarnished gold tulle.

Twined throughout the tree was my favorite ivy–I’ve had it

Gossamer ivy

for years, and a always amazed at how nicely its gossamer leaves work into a design. It looks beautiful with light shining on and through its faintly shimmering leaves. It’s one of those items that you wind up kicking yourself for not buying more of  later on when you wish you had more.

Lacy asparagus fern

As you could see from the before and after photos above, it is sometimes mandatory to re-create a more fulsome shape in a tree that has a less than desirable figure. Since there are no foundation garments made for trees, that means artful stuffing is called for. In addition to the ivy, the Spanish moss and the fern fronds, I

Tree topper elements

also used lacy asparagus fern that resembled downy feathers within the tree.

Up top, I simply created an arrangement that featured a bold peridot fiddle head fern and longer peacock feathers. I liked using the various ferns because they reminded me of the woods where the tree might have grown–and as I said, the shape of the fern fronds reminded me of bird feathers.

Lights that glowed blue into green

Finally it was time to take the lights off–after all, first thing

Faceted sphere lights

on, last thing off, although it certainly was easier to take them off. I stood in one spot and pulled them off while the tree spun around and around like a top. There were two types of lights. Most of them were little round faceted bulbs and a small number were shaped like venetian glass flowers and changed hues from dark blues to emerald green and back again.

I have to say I was not charmed by the LED lights. I thought they were a little harsh, but the Peacock Tree was wearing so much finery, it did not matter, you could hardly see them, and the blue lights that gradually turned emerald green were the real showstoppers.

Well, whew. That’s the sum of it. And to me, the Peacock Tree will always  be greater than the sum of its many parts. It will be a sweet memory to me, and I hope to the children and their parents who visited the Le Bonheur Enchanted Forest and Festival of Trees this year.


O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaubles

One of the prettiest "over the top" tree toppers at the Festival of Trees.

Back to the forest –the Enchanted Forest and the bedazzled and bedecked  Christmas trees at the Le Bonheur Twig’s Festival of Trees located at the Pink Palace.

People have keenly developed opinions about Christmas trees that are almost codified in their structure and ideological in their espousal. People who SAY they don’t care about Christmas trees, surely do have strong beliefs about them, which always says to me, “Oh yeah, you care alright!”

There are notions about when to put them up, what kind they should be, whether they should be amongst the living or the fake, and on and on. I’ve even found some folks who seem to have a real antipathy toward the Tannenbaum Nation. Sheeesh!

The theme of the tree topper was repeated under the tree.
The theme of the tree topper was repeated under the tree.

My mama will tell anyone who asks, and anyone who does not ask, that I have “always loved pretty.” This is true. Even when I was a child, I loved the dew because I imagined the dew drops were millions of sparkling diamonds scattered over the Bermuda grass that grew at the side of our house where the septic field was.  A child with a lot of time on her hands, I also noted that of all the various grasses and ground covers, Bermuda grass, with its fragile thin blades, makes the best setting for diamond dew drops. In case you want a field of diamonds in your own back yard.

Candy pandemonium reigns on the branches of the "Sugar and Spice" tree.

Christmas trees, too, should be chosen according to what sort of treasures you choose to hang upon their branches. That’s if you have a choice, but trees come to us like life and family members, and you just have to adapt to their idiosyncrasies.

This is something that you can glean from a walk through the Festival of Trees. The ones that look the best followed the lines of the tree–or as in my case, sort of  re-shaped the tree through the addition of additional materials.

Mr. Wu put up his Christmas tree at the Royal Panda on Thanksgiving Day. That is his tradition.  Like Mr. Wu, it is a very orderly tree, lovely but not given to flamboyance, its ornaments placed with care so that each one is observable and able to be enjoyed both by itself and at the same time, admired as a part of the whole. In other words, a lot like Mr. Wu and his cuisine.

Titled "Sugar and Spice", this tree created by the cheerleaders of St. Benedict at Auburndale picked up an honorable mention and is sponsored by Belz Enterprises.

An Enchanting Adventure in the Forest

Santa Claus with Miss Tennessee in front of the Peacock Tree. I think I heard her tell him that she'd like something that sparkles in her stocking on Christmas morning. They were both attending the Santa's Daddy/Daughter Ball.

By the time I arrived to pay the Peacock Tree a visit, the  Daddy/Daughter Santa Claus Ball at the Pink Palace  was just beginning to wind down.

As much work as we all put into making our trees as beautiful and as festive as possible, not one of them could hold a candle to the little girls in their special holiday dresses, with their little faces  all aglow with the excitement of their double dates with their dads AND with Santa Claus.

Hats and toboggans off to the ladies of Le Bonheur –and the incredible  staff at Le Bonheur who put these events together. Wow.  I have seen the president of the Le Bonheur Twigs there every time I go–last night she was the last to leave, carrying the left over cookies that will surely find their way back to Le Bonheur and the Le Bonheur Club’s coffee cart at the hospital. Sensational.

One of Santa's special guests who attended with ther daddy.

For me it was the first chance to get down there to take a look, so the opportunity to snap photos of Santa and Miss Tennessee was pure serendipity. And the chance to take some photos of the lovely young ladies in attendance was a blessing.

I got such a kick out of them, they were starry-eyed by the end of the event, and I don’t know how many of them went to the up escalator when it was time to go back downstairs and go home. The reactions of the equally starry-eyed dads–no naps or football THIS Sunday for them, was pretty funny, too, as they patiently explained what in their dad minds was beyond obvious with the sweetness that daddies  reserve for their little girls. Just beautiful. I enjoyed it so much.

What's more fun than a holiday party dress, a date with dad, and a party with Santa?

For the little girls, having their photos made with Miss Tennessee was a Disney World experience, for the beauty queen looked so princess like in her white and glittery dress. In fact, the tiara-crowned  Briarcrest graduate enjoys the bling and loves our store,  happily posing with the girls and with Santa  in front of our tree.

Proud as a Peacock in a Pine Tree

The tip top of the tree I decorated for the LeBonhuer Twigs Enchanted Forest at the Pink Palace.

Nothing very unusual about me needing to be in two places at one time. No, I take that back, if I ONLY needed to be in two places at one time, that really WOULD  be unusual.

The seemingly never ending need to “co-nay,tri-nay, quatro-exist” in different places all at the same time is probably the major stress creator in my life.

The experts are beginning to say that multi tasking is not supposed to be all it is cracked (hmmm, there’s a pun) up to be, but trying to multi-task in  multi-lateral locations–now there’s a challenge.

Last night was one of those nights,  and what I wound up missing was the bodaciously fun preview party for the Le Bonheur Twigs Enchanted Forest. This was a disappointment because when you are decorating your tree, you become really good friends with the people who are setting up trees in your area. It’s fun to see everyone that you saw in their sweats and jeans all dressed up in their gay cocktail dress apparel at the party — and it is also a kick to see  how it all looks after the place is vacuumed and white  snow is placed around all of the trees. The party is the last time you will see your old and new friends until the next year. And I missed it.

The party is also when the awards are announced. I hope the ladies who decorated the football tree with garlands of referee shirts and a goal post tree topper won something. Also the wonderful elderly couple who were across from me whose theme celebrated the Gift of Christmas. Their tree has a very special spirit about it, you can feel the love and the gentleness of these kind and caring people who, with limited resources, fashioned small gift packages with wrapping paper they felt happy to find at a garage sale and who embellished each gift with extra touches.

I am going to suggest that the Le Bonheur Twigs might want to invite the creators of the trees in the Enchanted Forest to come back on a  Sunday or Saturday  afternoon to visit with the public and explain how their trees “grew”. Many of the trees are very personal, and many express a point of view.

The tree that grew feathers and thought it was a peacock.

Because we are a five generation family business in love with our community and our customers, my tree was created to reflect the theme “Proud to be a Memphis holiday tradition”. It is supposed to look like a peacock–if an artificial tree could really look like a peacock. Since I could not go last night, and since I felt sheepish about calling Erin–who might also be put in the awkward position of telling me that “No, no one thought the tree looked very “peacockish”, but thank you dear for trying”, I decided to call the Palace Cafe. It is located on the floor right below my tree next to the escalator that goes “up”. (and boy does it–I learned this the hard way when I was trying to decorate the backside of the tree and my own backside got pushed along with the rubber rail.)

Upon hearing the explanation of my plight,  the fellow who answered the phone  agreed to ride up and take a look to see if I might have won  some sort of honorable mention.

He comes back, and guess what?! The Peacock Tree won Best of Show!

I am amazed, because our tree won the same title last year, and I felt like last year’s success was because I had a lot of beginner’s luck. Also, I have to say that this year’s tree was not the finest looking thing I have ever laid eyes on. In fact, my decorating neighbors laughed and said it should receive the “Most Improvement” award. Gee, I liked the ladies who did the Football Tree. I sure hope they won something.

I’ll explain a little more about how I decorated the tree tomorrow, and add some more photos.