by Pat Carey
It is just the first week of December, and I am proud to say that I have my house completely decorated for Christmas. I would also like to say that it is done in an elegant, sophisticated, minimalist style that would draw raves from the interior designers I used to work with. I would LIKE to say that, but the truth is that it looks more like Mrs. Santa threw a wild party with about forty-three rogue elves and they did not clean up after themselves.
I don’t know what happens to me at Christmas, but I can’t seem to stop myself. Every after-Christmas sale for the past forty-five years had me stocking up on bargains I couldn’t live without, and when we downsized from a large eight-room house to our present five-room bungalow we downsized our Christmas decorations not a whit.
Of our five rooms, three of them have decorated Christmas trees. The one in the living room is tall and glamorous. Okay, tall. And the one in the grandkids’ room has all the ornaments my kids made in past years out of Popsicle sticks, toilet paper cardboard and cotton balls and such with their own little hands. The cotton balls have worn away, but we still remember what they were supposed to be. The reindeer whose bodies were made of Lifesavers melted in the attic one year, but the reindeer made of clothespins still hangs proudly on the tree. My very favorite ornaments for that tree are made of cut-out egg carton foam and adorned with pictures of Josh and Jake by some very clever preschool Sunday school teachers back in the ‘seventies. Every year I ooh and aah when I take them gently out of the box. They were so cute back then!
In the same spirit, but classier maybe, the living room tree has ornaments that are tiny picture frames with photos of each of the grandchildren, four for every year since the youngest was born. If we keep this up, by the time the youngest is a senior in high school there will seventy-two picture ornaments. There is a whole set of teeny Thomas Kincaid houses, sixteen, I think. It’s a good thing the tree is nine feet tall. Some of the other ornaments may have to go.
There is a tree squeezed into the kitchen with cookies, my kids’ silver baby spoons, and kitchen-y things on it. When I say squeezed, I mean if you have to get back between it and the table before the meal, you must then wait ‘til your food has worn off before you can get out. No loosening your belt for third helpings back there.
And there are more trees scattered about, ten, with and without ornaments, from eight inches up to the nine foot living room one. We won’t talk about the trees outside. And, of course, I’ve never met a Nativity scene I didn’t like. There are about eight of them, but to give a nod to Santa Claus, there are fifteen Santa figurines. I’ve always worried a little that Santa would overshadow the real meaning of Christmas, so just to combine the two, I collect figures of Santa kneeling at the manger and there are six, not counting the three foot tall wooden cut-out Santa that is kneeling before Baby Jesus and lit up with a spotlight on our front lawn. Plus multiple wreaths, inside and out, snowmen, sleighs with little presents the size of a pack of gum, the thirty-four piece Victorian village… you can see inside the shop windows!.. plates and candles and Wise Men and various and sundry flotsam and jetsam of the Christmas persuasion that we have come across over the years. And remember, there have been a lot of years. Oh, and fake poinsettias, the kind with fuzzy leaves.
My mom was the Anti-minimalist when it came to decorating her home. Year-round there wasn’t a surface in her house, including the spaces between the stairs rails, that wasn’t home to some figurine, and the shinier, the more bejeweled, the better. That may be why the eleven months of the year that aren’t the Christmas season I favor a less-is-more style, but yesterday, when Dennis spotted (and remember he is nearly legally blind) the Christmas pillows on the couch with the big gold bows tied around them he said, “I think your mom would have liked those.”
It was code for “gaudy.” I didn’t even care. It’s Christmas.
Pat Carey has lived in the Tulsa area since 2003. She is retired and spends much of her time as chauffeur and general go-fer for her husband, Dennis, who is an amputee, and two of her four grandchildren who live near her. She enjoys gardening until it gets too hot, when she tends to let everything go to weeds, and foisting her opinions on anyone who will read her blog, An Old Wife’s Tales.