I'll confess: I left the Halloween decorations up a little too long this year. It was almost Thanksgiving when I finally talked myself into taking them down.
Okay, so I wasn't technically the one who talked me into it. It was Eric, as we were pulling out of the driveway one evening, who pointed at the orange lights twinkling in the window. "It's the middle of November," he pronounced. "Take 'em down!" He had just a touch of glee in his voice, there because he was taking the opportunity to toss my own phrase back at me. I'm usually the one driving around town in the the middle of January, growling that phrase whenever I see an inflatable Santa or a large lighted candy cane. "Take 'em down!"
So why didn't I follow my own rules this year? I've been feeling a little...okay, a lot depressed lately, and the tiny glowing lights and cackling pumpkins were helping me feel a smidgen less like crouching in the corner and glowering at the world. I'm lonely (no secret), I'm frazzled, and I wander through most days in desperate search of a hug and somebody who doesn't need a thing from me. If keeping my sanity meant keeping that skeleton hanging on my door, then so be it.
But there comes a time when you have to, literally or not, pull the plug on things, and I didn't want to bug the rest of the family with my need for a little extra color. Anyway, taking them down at that point wasn't so bad, because...
A little more color of a different sort was right around the corner.
I insist on having the tree up as soon as possible after Thanksgiving, preferably the day after. I remember one Christmas before I left home, I got home from college and there was no tree up, which made me feel terrible. I can't remember how I managed to convince Dad to go get one, and then I decorated the whole darn thing by myself, since nobody else in the family felt up to it. There was absolutely no Christmas spirit going on in the house, and if I had to drag that spirit through the door with my bare hands, kicking and screaming, I was going to bring it in.
This year's tree is new. Last year, in the post-Christmas bustle, I went out and got a good deal on a larger tree, as our old one, purchased when we were newly married, was starting to be swamped by our growing collection of ornaments. The new tree is two feet taller, a lot more dense, and much, much wider. It takes up nearly half of the dining room. In my current state of mind, and with my current need for a little extra color in my life, this is not a bad thing.
Gabe went crazy when we were setting up the tree (Sam was napping). As we unfolded the branches and turned the room greener and greener, he hopped about more and more maniacally, screeching his approval. He pounded on the box and tried to run off with the tree skirt. My spirits lifted with each new tier of limbs.
It's funny how something so simple as even an undecorated tree can make me feel refreshed and rejuvenated. I put on the radio, tuned to the local station playing Christmas music, and Gabe and I bopped around to "Jingle Bells" and "The Little Drummer Boy." I had promised Sam that we'd hold off on actually decorating the tree until he woke up, so instead we just enjoyed the house decorations I had stashed in the boxes.
Putting the ornaments on the tree, later, brought forth a whole new set of emotions and happy feelings, full of memories. We've made it a point each Christmas to buy at least one ornament to represent the year we've just experienced. Here are a few of the ornaments we have now:
This was from our first year as a married couple. We're not really all that into Precious Moments-type decorations, but we thought this was cute enough, and it reminded us of the ballroom dancing lessons we took together before our wedding.
These are the ornaments we got for Sam and Gabe for their first Christmases with us. The one in front, as should be obvious from the date, is for Sam; inside is a little picture frame ornament that can hang separately, but I've never done that.
Have you ever read the story of the Christmas Spider? I remember reading it as a kid, and so when I saw this spider ornament, I had to have it. The web is actually made from lace tatted by Amy, many years ago. I like to hang them near each other.
Because I collect teapots, it's fitting that there be one on the tree, right?
Eric and I picked this up at the University bookstore on one of our trips back through Morgantown. Hail, West Virginia! You gave us three degrees, between the two of us!
A gift from Eric's great-aunt and uncle, this one marked the (arguable) turn of the century. It's enormous, so it's nice to be able to hang it this year and not have to worry about it pulling the tree to one side.
This was actually a gift topper one year, though I don't remember for what gift or who gave it to us. The actual gift, in fact, was probably something simple and unremarkable; the Moravian star, on the other hand, makes me smile every time I hang it on the tree.
We got this after buying our house back in Toledo. Eric got all sniffly when I took it out this year. We have another ornament, given to us by the same great-aunt and uncle, as a commemoration for this house, but it obviously doesn't hold the same sentimental value as the one for our beloved Toledo home.
This ornament is from the Greenbrier, where we spent a few days with Eric's family back in 2003. I may never have another experience like that again, but it's nice to have a memento from it.
This was last year's ornament: a little Green Bay Packer. We're not football fans, and we'd just as soon not be in Wisconsin, but it seemed like a positive way to look at the year. It jingles, and it makes me giggle.
Sam had a grand time decorating the tree, and he's been much more well-behaved around it than last year or the years before. Gabe is a toddler, of course, which means that the lower branches are bare, but he doesn't mind. I had to tape the tree skirt down, though. Between all of us, I think just having this special thing in our midst is making us all feel a little brighter, a little sparkly.
I have a feeling that, come January, I'm going to be just as reluctant to take the ornaments down as I was for the Halloween decorations. The trouble with winter is that there's too long a gap of time between Christmas and when I personally deem it acceptable to decorate one's house for Valentine's Day (as though there's much in the way of decoration for that, anyway.) After Valentine's Day, it's just a long stretch of dull, colorless life - no sparkle, no dazzle. I always sigh when life returns to that state of "normal."
But for now, we'll enjoy the beauty of a high-contrast, high-color Christmas. We'll treat our eyes and our souls to the sensations that come with the holidays, and to the memories those sensations carry with them. For now, I feel a little like Dorothy stepping our of her house into Oz. Kansas can wait.
November's WordGoddess collaboration: "Colors."
one year ago:
I still don't know if it was the right call, rushing into marriage right after graduation and then flitting off to a distant state.
two years ago:
I suppose that we do better as we know better; next time, you had better believe that I will make any medical professional with whom I deal believe me when I say that I'll need extra drugs.
three years ago:
Fear of the unknown is an entirely overrated concept, in my opinion; it overshadows by far too much ground the other big sort of fear: fear of the known.
four years ago:
I can't finish things. Something's wrong with my head.
five years ago:
I'm rather inclined to say that the cure was actually the time spent chopping the onion and the massive quantities of garlic.
six years ago:
Let me just state for the record that no, we are not planning a Lotus Birth; nor am I planning to dine on placenta.
In the ears:|
On the Bookshelf: