Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Journal Your Christmas 2012: Prompt 2 Christmas Countdown from Childhood

Today’s prompt asked me to think about the Christmas countdown in my childhood. I remember putting up the Christmas tree with my dad and my brother. At this point my elder sisters must have been too cool to participate, but John and I had fun. I remember that we would love sorting out the parts of the artificial tree, much like I have done with my own children in the past. We would match the colors at the ends of the branches together and assemble the tree from the bottom up.
When it was time to decorate, late November, Dad would take us up to the attic and pass down the boxes of ornaments, garlands, and the tree. The attic was always a bit of a spooky place with a scary element because if you stepped in the wrong place you would come right down through the ceiling as there was no floor for the attic space but pieces of wide boards scattered about as makeshift walkways.  When we got older, John and I would retrieve the boxes on our own. Dad trusted us to pull them down.

My favorite decorations were the glow-in-the-dark icicles. John and I would hold them up to the nearest lamp then scoot into my parents' bedroom without the light on and watch them glow. We were fascinated by the process. I remember doing this over and over again. I remember the electric candles that went in the bedroom windows and the windows in the living and dining rooms. I remember being excited to plug them in at night, like a night light especially made for Christmas-time.

I also remember the big plastic candle decoration that Dad would set up in the front lawn. This was given up early on in my childhood. I don't even really remember seeing it on the lawn, but in the attic where we stored all the Christmas supplies. I remember setting out the strings of lights and inspecting them to find the bad bulbs. This could be a frustrating and arduous process that didn't always result in the strand lighting in the end. We were patient as we knew that this was one more step getting us closer to Christmas Day.

I don't remember Mom getting into the decorating very much. Maybe, like me, she was more a part of it when we were younger, and let Dad do it as the children got older and more independent. Nowadays, I really don't care about the tree much. I don't want to spend my precious vacation time taking the tree down and spending the hours it takes putting each ornament back in its box. For many years, I did this. I remember that when the girls were small there was so much to do and the tree was one more thing that I didn't necessarily enjoy a great deal. I tolerated the routine for them. I wanted them to remember the fun of putting up the tree.

The past three or so years have been different. Brett has wanted to do away with the artificial tree and appreciates a real one. I don't appreciate the cost or the mess, but I have to say it is growing on me. It is the only thing that he takes any interest in. He doesn't buy presents. He doesn't wrap. He doesn't really care about the holiday. But since he's taken over the tree thing the past few years, I am finding that I have a renewed interest in it. I still don't want to decorate it, but I like taking pictures of Brett and the girls putting up the lights and the garland. Last year we didn't put any ornaments on. The year before that, Brett bought cheap red balls to put up and we tossed them in the trash when the tree came down. I think we put up the artificial tree in the basement too, but we only put up lights. I have to admit the tree helps create the anticipation of Christmas Day and it's pretty to sit by the lights in the evening.

This year the girls selected a few choice ornaments to put on the tree. I didn't see what they had chosen until they started putting them on and had questions about which ornament belonged to who and when we had gotten it or who gave it to us.  I wonder if I am losing something as I pick up ornament after ornament and don't know their stories.  I used to. I have a list of all the special ornaments, who gave them to us, and the occasion. As a teacher I would get a lot of ornaments, some nice, some cheesy, from students. I started to lose track of the ones that we accumulated that way. This year the tree is staying up. It's beautiful and I realize that I don't have to take the ornaments down right away. Maybe I can re-acquaint myself with the stories or make up new ones with the girls as we put them back in their boxes and tins.

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