Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Is it Friday Yet?

Only Tuesday? Arrgh! I have a feeling it is going to be a long week. The holiday season has already begun it's impact on our lives. Hurry up and get those gifts bought and wrapped! Cookies to bake, holiday frippery to exhibit, and maybe a hot new outfit for the office party. I have done nothing except plug in my lights. They reside under the eaves of the house year round and are only visible when I plug in the timer at Christmas. It is pretty cool not having to do the labor, but somewhat anti-climactic. Plug it in, it's done.
I think back to the days with my dad, after Thanksgiving when we pulled the big ladder out of the basement and the boxes of those outdoor house lights. We always had a rat's nest of cord despite the care with which we packaged them away at the end of the previous season. Somehow they created a life of their own through the late winter, spring and summer. I always imagined they amused themselves in the dark box and end up all tangled in a dance they invented to while away the time until they could shine again. I would hold one end and my sisters or my mom would work the knots and twists. We would line up holding them off the wet ground so my dad, elevated to the eaves on a ladder would hook them on the cup hoods he had installed. My mom usually was the light inspector and despite all of our best efforts when the plug finally found it's electrical source and we stepped across the street to see the magic, there would be one or two we had missed. And then we would laugh and set the ladder back up to fix the insubordinate socket or bulb.

The tree was another thing entirely. Off to the lot we would go, singing some Christmas carol or other, packed in the car off to find the right tree, making an outing all our own. The consummate tree required space between the limbs for the ornaments. I still have a couple of these guys. The scenes of snowmen are mostly scratched off, but I package them away every year with the utmost of care. They are perfect to me. They are home.
My dad would string the lights on the tree. Each row having the correct number of lights in the correct color order. Wow, maybe I am a child of OCD parents too! That's kind of a revelation.
 We three girls got to hang the ornaments as we grew older. When all of the decorations were hung and inspected for balance and color, my mom would put the tinsel on. I don't know if there is still tinsel today. It was a fragile foil shredded in quarter inch or smaller widths about a foot  long. There were about a thousand or maybe more in a package. Of course I was just a little kid, it seemed like an endless supply. My dad would string some but the maestro of tinsel was my mom. She would take one strand at a time and carefully place it over each needle on the branches. I have no idea how long it took. It seemed like she did it from the day we got our tree until Christmas eve. Martha Stewart could have learned much from my mother.
Then, Christmas Eve at my grandparents. Dinner with ALL of the family - and there was never a paucity of family! After the dishes were done and it got dark, the wee ones would gather at the window waiting to see Santa's sleigh. He always came early to Martinez you see, because it was one of the first stops on his trip and we would gather 'round and open gifts he would dispense from a large velvet bag. One year, we had TWO Santas. (You should have seen the adults scrambling for an explanation that year!)
When I brought my husband home for the first Christmas, (he was not my husband then, just a guy I brought home to meet the parents) my mom gave him gifts she had stored for just such an occasion. He had a full beard at the time and was - despite being in the Navy - dressed kind of "Hippie" like. The gifts were a bottle of after shave and a new shirt. Boy, did that send a message or what? Hah!

Now we have our own traditions and styles of decorating. We have raised two kids who have families of their own and are starting the same with their children. (More on that later in the month.)

So on my list week, I have to put the blow up snow globe on the roof of the carport so it can snow in Martinez and get my house smelling of pine. Maybe the twinkle of tiny tree lights will lift my spirits and get me in the mood. Then I can get rid of these hum-drums dragging me down.

I will share my tree with you soon should you care to join my holiday ramblings. Happy Holidays to you all and a Very Merry Christmas.

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