Monday Smiles – 12/15/2014
Perhaps my favorite job of the Christmas season is decorating the tree. For many years when our kids were in the house … and i was a whole lot younger, I followed the lead of my Mom, who used to say, Who would want an artificial tree? I’d dutifully take the kids to the local tree farm and pretend to be letting them pick out the tree they liked best, cleverly circling back to my favorite and singing its praises until they picked it. Somehow, we’d get it home, saw off a few inches of the trunk and put it in the tree stand, painstakingly adjusting the stand to make the tree stand straight. Then I’d haul it inside and spend the next hour putting on the lights. This was not my favorite job of the holiday season … as far as I’m concerned, decorating started with the placement of the first ornament. When the kids grew up and I grew older, we bought an eight foot artificial tree that spends eleven months a year in a big red bag in our storage bin. Hauling it out of the bin and into the house is not as romantic as going to the tree farm but it is a hell of a lot easier. All I have to do is put the lower section in the stand, add the upper sections and unfold the branches. The moment of truth comes when I plug it in. Will all the bulbs light or will I play find the broken bulb until the whole tree is aglow? That is to say, even with our artificial tree, the joy of decorating starts with the first ornament.
I would guess there are several hundred ornaments in the two plastic containers that live in the storage bin with our tree. Some are older than I am and graced my parents’ tree during wartime. Some are discount store ornaments from the first tree Muri and I had in Rhode Island. Every year, Santa has added two or three new ornaments to the tree, even now that there are no kids around to believe in him. Every ornament is attached to a time, a place, an event in our lives. My Mom, who loved Christmas more than anyone I know, is always by my side as I take each shiny globe from the box. Small ornaments near the top, she’ll whisper, large ones on the bottom branches. Put the bells in front, Bud. I like the bells. She likes the stars, too, and as a bird-lover, she likes all the birds Santa has brought over the years. I’m fond of the glass reindeer with the missing back leg and the kitty with the broken ear. My Mom’s favorite ornament was a clear glass ball, at least until a mischievous cousin broke it. That probably explains why there are so many clear ornaments on out tree … I love the way they catch the colors of the lights. Mom always tsk-tsks at our tree-top ornament. A Christmas tree should have a star on the top, she’d say. Ours has a pinnacle. We like it and it is our tree. There are quite a few Hallmark collectable ornaments, a mouse lighting a candle and Santa kicking a soccer ball. There’s a beaver playing soccer that’s on the creepy side but he’s been here a long time, so he gets to stay. Muri is fond of snowmen, so naturally, they get to hang out with the balls, birds and bells. Last year, my favorite ornament, a clear bell fell from the tree and shattered. It used to jingle quietly as I hung it, a sound I missed this year. Perhaps Santa will find us another one.
So, the tree is up. Christmas can begin. And it’s Monday, I’m smiling.