Why I like decorating the Christmas tree
I'm always kind of last minute on putting my tree up. Between my husband's bah-humbug attitude toward "the season" and my own mild allergy to balsam, complicated by a major snow blast, I didn't get this year's edition up until December 22nd.
But up it is, and as a sort of Christmas Miracle, my ancient boom box didn't have any problems with Bing Crosby, Judy Collins, Linda Ronstadt, and Billboard's Greatest. (Usually I have to take a CD in and out a couple of times, then press down on the lid in just the right place to get the player to pick up. And, no, I did not play Bob Dylan while I decorated.)
There were a couple of small problems, however. (Nothing, of course, like the nightmares of my childhood, when if one light went out in a string, you had to test every single one to find the point of failure. Nothing says Christmas like Dad cursing under his breath as he unscrews one light bulb after the next. Talk about the Festival of Lights.)
But it wouldn't be Christmas without a wee problem or two.
For one, I had wanted a slightly smaller tree this year. But all Mahoney's Gardens had was biggish ones, so, thar' she blows: a seven footer - eight with the topper. Actually, this is probably for the best. With our high living room ceilings, and the size of the living room in general (big), too small a tree would look ridiculous. Still, a foot less would have been okay. (And a nod to my brother Rick for tree-schlepping with me. He even helped put it in the stand, minimizing the annual, minor 'the tree isn't straight?' hoo-hah that Jim and I always go through as we wrestle the tree into the stand. Another argument for a smaller tree, of course.)
The other glitch-een was my not looking at the tree from the side until it was fully decorated. Head on, it looked fine. Coming in to the living room, which is how everyone will first see it, there was a giant bare spot at 2 o'clock high.
So, there I was, gingerly twirling a fully decorated, seven foot tree around to hide the bare spot. Which, once I was done twirling, meant climbing on to the step stool to rejigger the tree topper, which only works in one direction (facing). And which necessitated rehanging some of the key ornaments so that they're front and center.
What's up front?
Not necessarily the most objectively beautiful ornaments, by any means.
But there's an honored place for the polar-bear Santa that says "Molly" that I got for Miss M's first Christmas. (Maybe someday I'll find the piece of the foot that broke off.) And the Caroline snow-lady that marked Lady C's first Noel.
Of course I had to make sure that my black lab ornament was at the fore, given that this year's new family addition - Trish and John's black lab, Jack - will be joining the festivities this year. (Wonder what old Jackeroo will make of his presents...)
I always like that have some of my sister Kath's old ornaments take center stage. She no longer has a tree, but I make sure the handmade Emily - her late, great cat - ornament is out front. As is the wooden turtle that commemorates Rick's late pet, Sluggo. (This is Rick, as in brother-in-law, not Rick as in brother.) Somewhere along the line, I got a dreidel, dreidel, dreidel - not made out of clay - which is there to honor Rick (as in brother-in-law.)
The plastic Santa in his sleigh (note the one-legged reindeer), the plastic red boots, and plastic red bells are also high on my list of what's important. These were from my parents' first Christmas tree, in 1946. (And what a jolly, holly Christmas that must have been. A few weeks earlier, their first child, my sister Margaret, had died in an entirely avoidable birth accident. As a family, this wasn't our only gruesome Christmas. Christmas 1970, my father lay dying, away in Boston in a hospital bed. That night he fell into an irreversible coma. I still have the plaid wool Pendleton shirt I'd gotten him that year, stowed in my cedar chest. I used to wear it, and maybe I'll start doing so again. Oddly - he never wore it - I draw great comfort from just having it around.)
On a cheerier note, I also like to have some of my travel ornaments up front: the Belleek ones from Ireland, some of the painted eggshells from Prague and Krakow, a couple of boats from the great state of Maine.
The striped glass ornaments that came from my grandmother Rogers' no longer go on the tree. They're on special ornament hangers on the mantle.
I always put a few of my mother's hand-made cross-stitched ornaments out. And a pig or two (don't ask). Plus a few Beetle-themed ones.
It should be easy enough to count, but, all told, I'm guessing that I have between 150-200 ornaments, most of which go on the tree.
This year, there are a couple of new additions:
- Fenway Park Green Monster (Yay! Spring training's just around the corner.)
- A stocking that says "Paris" from last spring's trip with Molly and Caroline.
- A cupcake - birthday gift from my friend Marilyn, who, with me, eagerly awaits the opening of the cupcake shop on Charles Street.
I have to say, I really enjoy decorating the tree, especially hanging the ornaments that came from a place that, or - better yet - a person who, means something to me.
(Gettin' sentimental in my old age, am I?)
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
Pink Slip is off until the new year. See you all on January 4th.
The pictures aren't great, but this is from my Blackberry....