Friday, December 16, 2011

Decorating the Tree: 'This is Your Life' in a Couple of Red & Green Bins

Keeping in line with the Picket Fence Post family’s fa-la-la-la-la 2011 Christmas  -- wherein I try to maintain a happy, cheerful Yuletide facade -- we’ve finally decorated the family Christmas tree after it sat in its tree stand, stark naked in the family room for several days.

I always marvel, every single year, at the memories I inevitably unwrap when I remove the ornaments from their plastic bins. (This year I had to keep vigil over the ornaments because Max the dog kept slyly grabbing them and scampering away in a joyous game of chase . . . joyous on his part. It was an unfortunate time for Max to suddenly become mischievous and charge around the room.)

It was hard not to smile when we looked at all the “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments, the here’s-my-handprint-when-I’m-7-years-old ornaments which always evokes melancholy about how fast time is passing. There are the ornaments from vacation destinations, like the Grinch and Max one we got at Universal Studios this summer, the pewter sand dollar from Cape Cod, the trolley car from San Francisco and the Chateau Frontenac ornament from our Quebec odyssey last year. There are the ones my grandmothers made me or gave me when I was a teen, in preparation for the day when I’d eventually have my own tree. I fondly look upon the Lenox one my mother gave The Spouse and I for our first Christmas in our first house. We annually re-tell the anecdote about the cloth snowman ornament onto which a 2-year-old Eldest Boy wiped his chocolate-covered face one Christmas at my parents' house.

It’s like This-Is-Your-Life contained in a couple of red and green bins. And the tree really reflects much of what we love, from the kids' ornaments of ballet dancers (when The Girl used to take dance) and the soccer and hockey ornaments, to the Harry Potter and Star Wars themed ones they've coveted. In addition to the Red Sox and Patriots ornaments on our tree, I added a new one this year to honor my caffeine addiction: A tiny Starbucks coffee cup ornament at which The Girl rolled her eyes when I showed it to her.

“Are we putting all of these on the tree?” The Spouse asked incredulously as if he’s forgotten that we somehow always manage to fit them onto the tree quite nicely, with the exception of the glass balls we bought when we shared our first tree together (back in 1991!) in order to take up all the empty space that’s now consumed by 20 years worth of ornament collecting.

Surprisingly, there was no bickering about the lights – which The Spouse and The Eldest Boy calmly placed on the tree – and no fighting over who got to put which ornament onto the tree.

Only one ornament was broken and it was my fault. I accidentally knocked the Rudolph and Hermie the elf ornament (where Rudolph’s nose lights up if you press a button) onto the floor, decapitating Hermie and knocking off his left hand, onto which the string to hang it was attached. I was able to pop Hermie’s head back into place pretty easily, but his hand is unfixable. Now that ornament is sitting on the mantle, a testament to my clumsiness.

After the decorating, we shut off all the lights, grabbed candy canes and sacked out on the sofa for several minutes to admire our handiwork. Not bad, not bad at all.

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