Yesterday afternoon I received a text from my mother. It went something like this:
“If you want to decorate the tree at all, you better get here soon – ’cause your father has already started (and nearly finished.)”
You’ll have to excuse the artistic license that I’m taking with the content of the text, in reality the message was far shorter, but I’ve become quite good at reading between the lines with my family.
Anyways, decorating for the holidays was one of the key ideas on December’s “Less Boring…” list, so getting to my parent’s house in time to do so was a pretty big deal for me. Since my roommate/brother and I decided it wasn’t the greatest idea to decorate an apartment we rarely spend time in, this was probably my one shot at checking another thing of the monthly list. Also, my father tends to make pretty awesome eggnog, so I knew it would be a pretty good time too.
I arrived, and like I had feared, my gung-ho dad had completed most of the decorating. Luckily the garland and tinsel had yet to be used, so my sister and I quickly snatched them up and went to work. Maybe doing ornaments, lights, tinsel and garland seems a bit overboard to some, but its just a tradition for my family. We took our time, making sure to drape the garland as precisely as possible, then tossing the delicate strands of tinsel in just the right places. The final product looked quite nice.
And it looked even better once we turned off the lights, and the flash on my iPhone:
But its not just the tree that we decorate. Growing up, the house was always completely decked out for the holidays. My parents usually went above and beyond to provide the most magical Christmases that my siblings and I could imagine. Trees, wreaths, candles, stockings – you name it, they probably had it decorating some part of the house. This is the fireplace, where my parents always hung our Christmas stockings:
Everywhere you look there are angels and candles and snowmen and stockings and Christmas tchotchkes of all manner. I know for some people it seems busy or, god-forbid, tacky. But for me, it says family; and it shows the love and warmth that goes along with family. For instance, we didn’t always have that many stockings. It used to be just four of them – Mom, Dad, myself and my brother. But then when my aunt began joining us for Christmas, she got one. Then we were blessed with my little sister, and she got one. And most recently, my lovely girlfriend has been given a stocking too. That fireplace is a symbol for our growing family.
Some of the decorations have less meaning, and are put up just for fun. Like this guy hanging from the the hallway window:
Each hallway window had one of these type of stockings. Growing up, this guy was affectionately known as Santa Moose (or Moose Santa?) But we also had Santa Bugs Bunny, and either a mouse in a stocking, or Tweety Bird Santa in a stocking. My memory is a little hazy on those details (must be the eggnog!)
There was also a giant knit stocking on the bathroom door, jingle bells in various places, the obligatory manger scene, and an amazing Christmas light display hanging from the back porch – something which I am appalled that I forgot to photograph.
Again, maybe it sounds tacky to some, but being a child in that house around the holidays was an amazing, joyful experience. And some of my childhood’s best memories can be traced back to the many holiday seasons at my parent’s house.
Of course, even I have to admit that some of the decorations were better than others.
For instance, massive 24 inch wreath: A+
A night light in the shape of Frosty the Snowman: another A+
Creepy elf lounging on the windowsill: C- (but only because I’m a crazy-easy grader)
What are you doing creepy elf?!? I mean this guy is weird – that facial expression, that pose, and that facial expression… what the hell, creepy elf?!
Of course, if I went home and creepy elf wasn’t there, well, it wouldn’t feel right. Because the holidays, especially Christmas, are about a lot of things, but one of the most important to me is tradition. The rituals we build together as a family are that experiences that will always bind us together. Even long after each of us has gone – either from moving, getting married, or passing on. As long as those traditions live on, a family cam never be truly broken apart.
So try to keep that in mind this year when your dad drinks to much eggnog, or “that” uncle says something dumb, or even next time you come across your own creepy elf. And have a Happy Chanukah, Great Kwanzaa, and Merry Christmas!