Thursday, December 13, 2007

Being Jolly

I adore Christmas.

As a child, the tree would go up the day after Thanksgiving. Dad would put the wire branches into the plastic slots of the tree they had had since before I was born, then he and mom would wind colored lights and silver garland around each layer. My parents Christmas records, Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby, would take turns with the Chipmunks record I wish I still owned. We would all be drinking Boiled Custard from Holiday Stemware that was purchased from Fast Food Joints in years before.

Ma would sit on the couch and hand out ornaments, while we each clamored for our favorites: the soft ones shaped like Cinderella’s mice; the Styrofoam and sequin balls made by my baba. She would guide us to the spots least populated, and make sure each of the four of us had a favorite in the front.

When all the baubles were hung, Ma would hand out the silver tinsel with the instruction to Watch for Clumping. I pulled the tinsel across the branches and left only a few strings, while my brother favored the toss-at-the-tree method.

The angel was placed on top of the tree by a different kid each year. I remember when I was 16, my father lifted me up to place on the angel for my last Christmas before heading off to college. The Angel itself is a memory: for the first 15 or so years of my life, it was a porcelain-headed beauty about the size of my palm. She wore a filmy white dress and was attached to a plastic star. My Aunt Carrie made us a new one, much taller and more elegant; I still kind of miss the old one, though.

After the angel was placed, we plugged in the lights, and turned off the overheads. The four of us sat on the couch and stared at the tree while my father explained the symbolism behind the tree: the Angel who told the good news; the Candy Canes representing Jesus the Shepherd; the lights for the Star of Bethlehem. It still makes me feel fuzzy inside.

It has been 4 years since I have decorated a tree with my family. The trees in my home are beautiful and coordinated; they light up the house and cause my guests to exclaim. However, they don’t have that soul of a tree decorated by children. Violet is still too young, and though she tried to help this year, she mainly just tore the tops of the bulbs, then demanded to be put to bed. She does love to stare at it, though. I cannot wait for her to clamor for ornaments and throw tinsel at the tree.

Christmases will just keep getting better and better.


Ash said...

Lovely story

ihearthayden said...

Soo sweet. I love this story. I cant wait to tell our kids the story of the lights, candy canes, and the angel. Well, I tell Hayden now, but he hardly listens.