Thursday, December 4, 2008


I have a cold and am zapped. Sorry about that. I have been conserving my energy for making the house holiday-ready, though. We didn't do anything at all last year, for a few reasons: we both were sick, we had a pipe burst in the house, and it was just a bad year for us, mostly. So, after two years in the basement, Glen pulled the Christmas bins out earlier this week, and we had a lot of fun going through decorations we had collected together over the last few years, and with our new nine-and-a-half-foot tree, we might actually get to display most of them.

I like the look of an orderly tree with a theme of similar ornaments, colors, or textures, but I also like the hodge-podge we have on our tree, because I can remember with relative clarity where we were each year when we got our ornaments. And since I'm not religious, I tend to focus on the fond memories and food aspect of Christmas, and there are a lot of good memories (and good meals) associated with our ornaments. We picked up a bunch of them in New York City, with Glen's sister Clair, and her husband Frits, several years ago, two nights before Christmas, in Macy's. It was a warm night for December in New York City, and we were sweating, up on the 5th or 6th or 7th floor of that old building with those old escalators, burdened by our heavy coats and winter accessories and packages. Afterward, we pushed our way through the throng of humanity in the City, and went into St. Patrick's Cathedral, which couldn't be more different from Macy's: it was cool, and quiet, and reflective, and magnificent.

Another group of ornaments came from the old Treasure Island store at the Mercer Mall while Glen's sister Brenda (yo, Bill!) was down for a visit. We spent hours in that store, knowing the end was near for it, combing through all the kitsch and sparkle. We bought SO much stuff on clearance that we climbed around bags for the entire time Brenda was visiting. A very successful visit!

We have ornaments that make me think of specific people (and critters) in my life, and now, with several of them gone, what a strange flood of emotions they evoke. The plump, glittery, red-headed woman makes me think of my mom. The little wispy fairy makes me think of Catherine. I have a dog and cat ornament for Lacey and Monkey, both of whom have left me since we last had those ornaments hanging on a tree. So, it's certainly with considerable sadness that we decorate, but it's cathartic, too: the ornaments are a reminder of many good years, and hope, and love. On a lighter note, the John Denver ornament makes me think of my sister Karen, even though she cried for the old days when she saw it. The duck with a rifle makes me think of my dad. The Star Wars stuff turns my mind to my nephews. The ceramic snowmen and Rudolph stuff make me think of Brenda. The silver snowflakes make me think of my grandmother, Catherine, who is now 90; who gives each of us one every year. They also make me think of my sister Jenny, because she only uses her silver snowflakes and red bows on her tree — a stark contrast to my chaotic tree — and I love the way her tree looks. Hockey skates conjure thoughts of Glen's exuberant nephew, Aidan. And we have a small box of silly ornaments Glen and I made together the first Christmas we were together — just clear glass balls we filled with fake carrots and moss and cloves, and had there not been that association with them, I'd think they were stupidest looking ornaments ever possibly made. Well, they are, but that first Christmas Glen and I shared in 2001 was cozy and sweet and so full of great potential, and that's what I feel of when I see the pile of cloves and fake carrots and moss inside those glass orbs.

Matthew was reasonably content while we decorated the tree, though he spent most of the evening looking up at the ceiling fan, and playing with a couple of bean bag toys. I'm looking forward to Christmases with him, and I like the thought of looking back on this Christmas, with him so little in his baby pappasan, and with years of ornaments to remind me of our stories.

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