As a young girl, I remember the excitement my brother and I felt when we realized that mom was heading out into the garage and bringing down the Christmas barrels out of storage. Before long, she would be coming into the house with arm-fulls of artificial tree branches, putting them on the living room floor and giving directions to “sort these by size!” before she would head back out for another bunch. I honestly don’t think there was any other time when we would comply so quickly or with so much enthusiasm. It didn’t matter that it smelled old and musty. I didn’t matter that they were prickly. The Christmas decorations were coming out, and the tree was going up!!

I loved our tree, always adorned with different colored lights and then getting re-acquainted with the previous year’s Hallmark ornaments. But there was one thing our tree didn’t have. It didn’t have that one special decoration that was only found at our grandparent’s house.

My Grandpa Parrish would decorate his tree every year and place a white dove somewhere in the tree. A dove, that with the flick of a switch, started to tweet and twitter (before Tweeting and Twittering as we know it today!!). I know that doves don’t tweet – they “coo” softly.  But there was nothing soft and quiet about this decorative bird, and it was exciting for all of the young cousins to make it over to our grandparent’s house each year to first of all locate the dove on the tree and then jump up & down excitedly while waiting for grandpa to flip on the switch sending it’s year-long forgotten sounds throughout the house. We would cheer, grandpa would laugh with a twinkle in his eye that you would swear came from Santa Claus himself, and finally when the tweeting had gone on long enough, grandma would yell in from the kitchen, “Paul – turn that thing off!”

I’m sitting here in my own house now, looking upon my very own tree that I decorated just a few days ago.  Just like my own mother did, armfuls of artificial branches were brought into the family room, and the command to “Sort these by size!” was given to my own children.  Almost like looking back through time, these children obey with more excitement and enthusiasm than what they usually do.

There is no tweeting dove on our tree though, for he continues to sing out only in my memories.


(The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at