Thursday, December 23, 2010

musings on decorating for Christmas

I would like to be a person who decorates her house for Christmas. I would love to see mantels bedecked with garland and twinkle lights, silvered ornaments strewn carelessly-on-purpose across the green.

I would like to be a person who has boxes of heirloom ornaments carefully wrapped in tissue paper that smells of cinnamon and bayberry. I would like to see a huge wreath on my door - sweet and whimsical or hearty with pine cones - either one would be delicious and beautiful.

I would like to have tree colors or tree themes and clasp my hands rhapsodically as we wrap evergreen in strings of beads and lights.

I would like to have bowls of candy placed on each surface of my house: a bowl of chocolate kisses and a bowl of peppermint patties (for some reason, I can eat them at Christmas time as if they were popcorn, unwrapping them and eating them one-by-one, right after the other but as soon as January 1st comes calling they are cast off as the weird mint step child that they are and sent to the back of the cookie cabinet). I would like to be a person who doesn't explain her weird love/hate seasonal relationship with peppermint patties.

I would like to be someone whose house smells of evergreen and citrus, cookies baking in the oven while festive Christmas music tinkles in the background. I would like to have my home feel like a Christmas card, a Christmas card I get to live in and breathe in and take naps in.

I would like to have Christmas gifts wrapped - each of them perfectly, with color-coordinating bows and ribbon, without any panic of last-minute wrapping and that terrible real-looking Santa paper that no one wants to use and so of course, it's the last one on the shelf. Check that, it's the second to last one on the shelf because the other option is that gold-lame pointsetta foil paper that looks like a 1967 velvet-wallpapered hallway, so of course you choose the Real Santa paper and hope that it doesn't scare anyone.

I would like to purchase a Christmas tree without ire or frustration or the inevitable line, uttered by no one though surely it's said every year, Fine then. YOU go pick out a tree.

I imagine a leisurely outing with bemittened hands clasping tightly as we, our Christmas-decorating family, goes tumbling merrily onto the tree farm to purchase the Christmas tree of our dreams. A dream that, like all of this, is just...

Not us.

Not me.

Christmas, it comes to me again and again, in waves of perfectly color-coordinated reminders, is a time of reflection. It is a time of wonder. It is a time of...

a thousand different things for a thousand different people. I have never mastered the art of decorating for Christmas. I don't have bowls of useless doodads in my house during the other eleven months of the year so it wouldn't make sense that I'd magically become the person who has that stuff in December. I hold no ire for anyone who does--- in fact, I am in sheer unadulterated AWE of The Christmas Decorator. I love that woman. I love that she has the creativity, the dedication, the mind's eye for that kind of beauty. I just know that I'm not her.

What I do know is that I'm still figuring out who I am, reflected in my house. As much as I'd like to be The Christmas Decorator, the one of mercury glass and heirloom ornaments, I have a feeling it's not in the cards for me.

Right now, I'm happy that we have a tree. That we are placing our simple and weird and whimsical ornaments on its branches. I'm happy that we use colored twinkle lights because they remind me of childhood. I'm happy that our stockings don't match and quite frankly I'm still deciding what kind of stockings I want us to have. I realize, even now as I write this, that the men out there tuned out long long ago - because this is something that doesn't occur to most of them, at least to my husband (love you dear): that Christmas traditions, the ones of decor and trees and how you hang your stockings - those tangible traditions that become the cement of a family history - they are decisions made along the way over the course of a lifetime.

So yes, I'm happy that our Christmas is becoming ours in our very own way: messy and unmatched and strangely asymmetrical. Just the way I am.


serenity now said...

Love this post! We're still discovering Christmas traditions, too. And they change from year to year, which kind of negates the whole idea of "tradition." But that's where we're at right now.

ixBeths said...

I want to be a Christmas decorator because that's something I remember about my own childhood, and I want that same excitement and wonder for my children. But I don't think it's in the cards for me either. We do have a few decorative items - from my mom's house even - but they seem... I don't know... wrong somehow. I don't know what's right for me.

We put our tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving. I thought it would get me in the spirit, but now it's the 23rd, and I'm still not there. We're still running our air conditioner, though, which we've never once still been doing at this time of year. It's depressing.

One thing I do know is that I want stockings, and I can't find any appropriately handmade or otherwise original and not made from felt and bought at Target.

Sibley Saga .... said...

I have stockings that are made from sweaters. They are cozy looking and London will love them as she gets older because they s-t-r-e-t-c-h and can be filled with loads of stuff.

kately said...

Here's how we picked out our christmas tree: Abram was working hard that week and we had just returned from vacation and were behind on everything Christmas, so Shelby and I went out in a downpour of rain and stopped at a local church selling trees .... winding through the dark parking lot, to finally find the location of the tree area, only to find a poor kid running around in the dark trying to fix a power outage - he blew a circuit when he turned on the power saw to chop off the bottom of a tree. Shelby and I stood in the dark, under the awning, in a downpour, while the kid fixed the power problem, and then we pointed to the first tree we saw and said - it is perfect - we'll take it!! abram loved it too - and so it is this year's tree :-)

angelalois said...

ok I have a friend who wonderfully phrases it, "it looks like christmas threw up in my house." Hilarious and appropriate and indicative of how crazy it can get. And to me, honestly, it's just too much work for only +/- 30 days of decorations. I am fine with a handful of decorations and calling it good.