Monday, December 7, 2009

Kicking the bah humbug blues, one decoration at a time

I almost said bah humbug while ago and meant it.

Up until Sunday evening, when I draped the may-be-decade-old white lights with garland across the back porch railings, there had been no decked halls at our house.

Dec. 6 may be the latest I’ve ever waited to start Christmasing. The tree might wait this long to be decked, since we are a live-tree-only family, but I usually at least get out the stockings or the Santa collection or start doing cards or cookies or something by now.

Not one gift purchased. Not one list begun. Let’s hope Santa’s more prepared than I am.

I know it’s still two and one-half weeks to the big day, but despite the twinkling lights along the Hoover roads I travel daily and the been-there Christmas stuff in the stores, I am not feeling the Christmas cheer.

I don’t know exactly prompted me to begin to mutter the aforementioned “bah humbug” let’s-just-don’t-fool with-this-Christmas-stuff comment. Maybe it’s losing Suzie, the wonder dog. Or maybe it’s facing my second Christmas as an unemployment statistic.

Hey Debbie Downer, give us a break.

It may be as simple as Christmas coming so quickly this year. It was just Halloween, wasn’t it? Thanksgiving streaked by, then the Iron Bowl (War Eagle anyway!), and then, BAM! It became Christmastime when I wasn’t looking.

So, I swallowed the bah humbug mid-sentence, and hung a wreath. I put the guitar-holding, rock-around-the-clock dancin’ and singin’ doll on the table on the back porch where he usually spends the holidays.

I’m kicking the bah humbug blues, one decoration at a time.

By the time the stockings are up and the multi-colored lights in the Leland Cypress trees in the front yard, I’ll forget I ever considered bah humbugging at all. Because, you see, my normal state is annoyingly cheerful and childlike about Christmas.

Whoever does the decorating at your house knows the feeling of rediscovery when a prized and ancient decoration is pulled from the tissue-and-newspaper-packed plastic crate.

There’s Mom-Mom’s Santa, with the removable boots, who used to clutch a Coca-Cola bottle, that tiny bottle lost to packing or a curious child years ago.

There, too, are the pictures of children Christmases past, innocent and shining from Christmas picture frames.

In boxes all their own are the ornaments, the one from our first year, our first house and our children’s first Christmases. I even have the foil-covered-toilet-paper-roll ornament I made in school more than 40 years ago. I tell Mary Claire and Will the origins of all the ornaments, as we trim the tree, hoping eventually they will remember to tell their children. This, after all, is what Christmas traditions are about.

Aunt Jackie made this ornament; neighbor Mildred Mott from Selma this one. Mother knitted all these, the bells and angels which have survived my creative Momma by decades.

The only ornament losses over all these years came during the inevitable Christmas tree crashes. A live Christmas tree family, as previously stated -- in part because of husband and father, Frank the forester -- our tradition calls for a bought live tree every other year, alternated with a cedar cut fresh from the woods.

This year is a live bought tree year, after a towering cedar, grown to be a cedar, not a Christmas tree, last year. That one crashed to the floor as I was finishing the decorating last year. In a crash that really seemed to happen in slow motion, the toppling cost a few more glass ornaments and that day’s Christmas spirit. Will and Frank righted it and used fishing line to anchor it to the window sashes.

I probably murmured bah humbug word a few times that night, as I redecorated the stabilized tree. But it was a work of art when finished, a stable work of art that didn’t sway or tilt until we wanted it to after it was undecorated and carried out the front door a few days after the big day.

The previous Christmas tree crash was in our Camden home, when the tree (probably a from-the-woods one) hit the floor mid season, water spilling and mixing with broken glass. That crash took out some keepsake glass ornaments, like the three-glass-bell ornament Momma gave us her final Christmas. I cried then over broken ornaments, but rallied as I placed the remaining treasure trove of ornaments back on the righted tree.

I have too many memories tucked into Christmas boxes – and too many blessings all around -- to allow the bah humbugs to remain in our holiday home. I hope the same is true for all of us.

My brief case the bhb virus passed quickly – aided by flashing lights and the anticipated unwrapping of baby Jesus and the wise men.

If you’ve got even a slight case and feel the bah humbug fever creeping in, I highly recommend getting out those Christmas boxes and setting free for another year those happy memories, jolly Santas and other twinkling things.

Picture of the day:
Cedar Christmas Tree, 2008

Song of the day:
Happy Christmas, John Lennon

"So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear"

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