Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Decorating for Christmas memories

When my mom was alive the tradition was that on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we always gather at my parent's and decorate all the trees, eat, and just have a good time.It was always one of my favorite days of the year.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving we arrived around after church time and started hauling out the decorations. We had to get started on time and early because it's a lot of work putting up and decorating 7 trees. Yes, 7 CHRISTMAS TREES!!!!!!!!! Were my parents insane or the real Claus's you may ask? "Maybe" is the best answer I have for you.

After we hauled all the trees and their decorations out of storage, along with 10 (or more) nativity scenes, the Santa Claus collection and the village my mom painted and other miscellaneous decorations, we could get started. I was usually assigned the kitchen tree which I loved. It was full of novelty lights- the glowing snowmen, twinkling candy canes, the shining M and M shaped lights, the old fashioned bubble lights and so many others I can't remember them! I get tickled every year when I pulled out the strings of lights that are ensconced in their own decoration. This tree is also covered with novelty garlands like trains, popcorn, cinnamon sticks and beads. There are wooden cranberries and snowballs and snowmen and Lifesavers. All the ornaments that adorned this tree are kitchen and food related. It's a full tree- like 6 feet- your standard average tree. It was adorable and everyone loved it when they came visit.

In my folks bathroom was a Charlie Brown looking tree covered with bird ornaments that fit the decor. The guest bathroom had a table top tree with music ornament- notes, instruments. My parent's bedroom had a blue spruce with old fashioned ornaments in antique pinks and creams. The staircase tree was covered in nothing but crystal ornaments and clear glass bulbs. Oh yeah, the tree on the screened in porch had twinkle lights and was covered in huge red balls and gold ribbons. The upstairs tree was my bro's and was a white tree with blue lights and ornaments that struck his fancy.

While I am working on the kitchen tree, the apple cider was on the stove making the house smell all warm and cinnamon yummy. There were snacks set out- munchies like cheese and crackers and pumpkin roll, which we never got any other time of year. Mom made sausage balls, nacho dip, baby hot dogs in sauce with pineapple. Everyone else was doing their parts, moving from room to room to decorate their assigned trees or lug boxes for mom. Mom directed our cheery (though sometimes motley) crew in where everything goes- like we couldn't remember from year to year but we humored her and took the direction well, only exchanging a few well intended eye rolls. Dad was often outside hanging outside lights and swearing. Or he might be in the house, weather depending, doing trees, Santas, village, swearing... Christmas carols were played and we were singing alone from all over the house but voices combined in a cacophony of sound that only sounds sweet at the holiday.

It was also my job to crawl in the closet under the stairs to hand stuff to dad that cannot be outside like his antique, hand-painted nativity village, the snow globes, the fragile things that have survived the years.

Then there was the family tree. It's the one we decorated last and we all did it together. Mom sat in her chair and dug the ornaments out of the boxes and handed them to us. We all had "our" own ornaments- pink things or frogs for me, trains for Bro, purple or butterflies for my SisIL, music for dad, and a potpourri of "boy" things for Mac, and the list goes on and on. Ornaments that represent us each year- our hobbies and interests, our favorite colors, our marriages, babies, new homes, new jobs, little pieces of our past that came with a story that someone told. The penguins that look like they are frolicking in the snow or the round balls covered in glitter that always look like sugar plums to me need to be hung up. We sang carols together and Bro always tried to sneak "Grandma Got ran over by a Reindeer" in and my dad and I guffaw while mom and Bro howled with laughter and we all ended up singing along. We remembered when my ex- husband broke the first ornament that was ever on my grandmother's tree and it was irreplaceable. We laughed at the baby's first Christmas ornaments and us babies are all in our 30's and Mac is a teenager! We'd eat and laugh and sometimes cry.

Then we tried to clean up or finally give up. We'd go to our own homes now that we were all grown up. Sometimes I thought that day was better than Christmas day itself.



Curley said...

What great memories to carry with you and to add memories to, for your kids to carry forward. Like having a beautiful pink tree.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Curly.. great memories

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

your story telling is wonderful. I felt like I was there singing along and helping with the kitchen tree. Loved this post!