Ornamental Christmas

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Christmas trees are a hassle.

I kill the live ones and the pretend ones leave a lot to be desired.

It’s been probably three years since I had an official Christmas tree up mostly because Buzz, Skeeter and Petticoat wouldn’t be able to resist taking the tree for a ride.

I do have a couple little trees you plug into a base and they have those little lights on the end and the effect is soft light and mellowness.

In 2001 that tree just died two days before Christmas. It was an advertisement for “Don’t have this kind of tree in your house” and we took the decorations and lights off and rested it outside next to the trash cans. Kate was working part-time at Mervyns and mentioned we didn’t have a tree. The manager let her bring home one of the smaller display trees on the condition she’d bring it back before the day-after-Christmas sale started.

This year, I have three trees up because my daughter Jill came up and decorated my house for me. I wasn’t planning on the tree with all the decorations, I was just going to do the smaller trees with optic lights. Now, strings of lights drape from window to window and it looks like Christmas barfed all over the living room.

Let’s face it – I have a lot of Christmas decorations stretching from the first days of marriage to this afternoon.

Everyone family member has an ornament. Kate, Jill and Paul have a couple ornaments each and some are just as old as they are. Their paternal grandmother hand sewed and stitched an ornament for everyone the first year I was married and I still have all of ours, except of course for my ex-husband. I burned his. Tossed it right into the fire.

The “spouses” have their ornaments, too. Jason has a snowman and Matt is a skier peeking out from a pile of snow.

The granddaughters, of course, have handmade decorations.

It’s odd how there’s no ornaments for my parents, other grandparents and family members. Nothing on our trees reflects that they ever existed as I’m sure we never were part of their decoration scheme. It’s rather sad and I just realized it recently.

My most favorite ornaments are the ones for our animals that we’ve had since I got married. There’s been a fair amount of them but I never made ones for any of the hamsters or Jill’s fish for that matter. Although, Jill has one fish that’s ancient and he probably should get one.

Growing up, trees were meticulously coordinated and trimmed. No kids allowed. It stuck so well that after a few Christmas trees I passed the chore on to Kate and then to Jill.

Paul’s never gotten into decorating and isn’t a fan of Christmas (The Queen of Christmas story didn’t showcase me at my best) but he’ll put up outdoor lights and schlep boxes around.

I probably have 100 ornaments ranging from a ‘Lil Caesar Pizza-Pizza doll to ones made by the kids when they were in school. Paul schlepped 8 boxes worth of Christmas.

“Lil Caesar came along with two pizzas we ordered back when we lived on Joan Street and were decorating the tree. Kate was probably 8 and walked over and put him on the top of the tree and that’s his place.

Some decorations have meaning and others are just cute. Everything in the box goes on the tree. It’s like a ritual: get out each ornament and talk about where it came from, do any repairs if needed and reflect on how long it’s been around. Years ago I thought I was just buying decorations but they become a path to the past and Christmas is steeped in nostalgia.

I tend to like brightly colored handmade decorations and I have LOTS. Things I’ve crossed-stitched or sewed.

I was reading meters near Federal and Bayaud and went into a small house to read the meter in the kitchen and the lady there had a whole house filled with hand-crafted Christmas decorations. She spent most of the year making finely sewn crafts of all sorts and the attention to detail is incredible. Nobody has time for things like that anymore.

I spent an hour there and bought small wreaths, door hangers and the three little kittens who lost their mittens … and their mother. They stare down at me as I write this post.

I’ve had many beautiful glass balls but kids/cats/dogs made sure that was short-lived. One of our cats, Sam, would ride the Christmas tree every year and most glass didn’t survive the eight-second ride. One year we had to hang the tree from the ceiling because Sam bothered the tree most nights.

My mother told me a story when I was a little kid that on Christmas Eve all the animals the world over can talk. I always thought that Sam’s few words would probably be, “Yeehaw!! It’s rodeo time!”

The best ornament isn’t one at all; it’s a Christmas card my friend Susan sent me probably in 1990. It’s Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock having a conversation about Christmas trees. I cut it out, put ribbon on it and it’s on my tree every year I have a tree.

I like my tree(s) and their free-form approach. I love having them up but on January 1, I cram them back in their respective boxes and into the shed they go.

I love the lights, music and food associated with Christmas.

Including ‘Lil Caesar.

Pizza, pizza.

A 'Lil Caesar's Pizza-Pizza doll is my Christmas tree topper.
A ‘Lil Caesar’s Pizza-Pizza doll is my Christmas tree topper.

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