Everyone have a good Thanksgiving? I'm well-fed. A little too much so. Thank goodness for spandex-blend fabrics!
This was the first year I can recall we had so little conversation at the table during dinner, aside from "Please pass the (fill in the blank)." Mad clackings of silverware on plates made up about 95 % of the noise. Usually Paul's uncle and father go at each other (in jest) (?) like a wildebeest on a zebra, but this year the uncle was sick and didn't feel much like provoking anything. Talk about spoiling all our fun. I can't recall even one incredibly inappropriate remark exchanged between them. That may just be a family record.
It's still necessary to seat the four boys at the overflow kids' table, though a little ridiculous my almost 6' son is considered a kid. It looks like he's squatting on a tricycle, poor guy, but the four of them have so much fun. It's their time to push behavioral limits until the first one gets yelled at, and since Paul and I are the more liberal parents you can guess which two provoke the most trouble. Shocking, I know.
It's all a blur of good smell memories and elbows flying, now. Chalk up yet another turkey day, and the official start of the holiday season. I now grant permission to decorate the house, inside and out, though the blatant commercialism of the season still makes me nauseous. Our local Target store looks like a Christmas decoration factory projectile vomited in it, and has since they took down the Halloween remnants. Awful.
The worst part is there's no sanctuary from it. Even in the library there are two Christmas trees, one in the lobby area and one in the meeting room. It makes me uncomfortable, to tell the truth. In a public space it doesn't seem appropriate, somehow. The village hall opts for reindeer made from birch trees (lovely, actually) and holiday wreaths. I guess so long as there's nothing religious in nature it's deemed acceptable, but if there was one place I could shop that didn't have holiday accouterments they'd get all my business. I know what time of year it is; I don't need to be beaten over the head with it.
Outside, we (SEE: Paul) put up icicle lights and, if I'm feeling ambitious, greenery and red velvet ribbon intertwined on the porch rails. We have two light up reindeer, but the motion they used to make (bending down to crop the grass for one, and a leaping motion for the other) has morphed into twitchy, stuttering half movements more disturbing than bucolic. It looks like they're having convulsions. They weren't cheap, though. That's the annoying part. That and the way the lights blow a fuse when it's rainy and wet outside.
'Tis the season!
My boys enjoy seeing the house decorated for the holidays even more than my daughter. I'll decorate the fireplace mantle with a strand of faux evergreen rope interspersed with poinsettias, wind lights and greenery up the stair rail, and pepper the living room with some of my abundant Santa collection (lessening a little each year as I pull a couple out, donating them to charity).
In a couple of weeks the tree will go up, the thing I enjoy most. We opt for real trees, and the smell is delicious. The whole house smells like a forest for one month out of the year. When I vacuum around the tree it picks up the scent from the needles, spreading the pine smell through the rest of the house. Almost makes vacuuming enjoyable. Almost.
Once upon a time we'd drive out to a tree farm, but now we get ours from one of the local building stores. Their selection is usually wide, even for the more expensive Fraser firs that have become our must have. Plus, the kids don't complain nearly as much when they aren't force marched through the snow in search of the best tree on the farm. It's just a whole lot easier choosing from pre-cut trees, if a little less romantic. Try though we may, the kids just won't do anything but the tree lots.
It always works out we decide we need to get our tree on the absolute coldest day of the year. The process begins with the rest of us whining and complaining until Paul's driven mad. When he can't take it anymore we all tumble into the van, flush with victory. And, of course, once we have it he's the one outside the car tying it to the roof while we're inside blasting the heat. Can't break tradition, after all.
Sometimes we video the putting up and decorating the tree ritual, and it's hilarious. Sick, but hilarious. We're always biting each other's heads off, "Hold it straight! It's leaning to the left! To the right! Check the lights before you put them on the tree!" And the ornaments… All the complaints about that roll out of my mouth. I freely admit it. "You're putting all the glass ones together! The back of the tree (faces the street) is naked! No, I don't know where the ornament hooks are!"
Ah, the holidays.
But then, once it's all decorated and the detritus cleaned up, we turn off the lamps and gaze upon the splendor. That moment is worth all the effort. Then my Grinch-like heart starts to thaw a little, and my tolerance rise. Just a bit. Out come the Christmas cookies and we sit on the sofas, listening to holiday music, watching the lights blink off and on – one bit of family togetherness we all agree is the best of the whole year.
It's just getting to that moment that drives me mad. And the bits after. But let's forget about that right now, before I rip all my hair out. Shall we?