Sunday, December 30, 2012

Always Hang the Golden Apples; Plug in the Pig.

I expected the tree would be a lot smaller, and it was; a happy little table top fiber optic model which sparkled a shifting rainbow of colors through its branch tips. It was duct taped to the side table at its base (to foil human clumsiness rather than any felines, who, friends tell me, feel compelled to scale such things). From my childhood, I remember the annual Wrestling of the Tree Box from attic to third and second floor, to first. It was a frustrated affair, with shouted invectives preceding and following the sound of corners banging into walls; though naturally there was a happy ending. It was understandable when at some point, my parents abandoned the practice of bringing the entire tree down, in favor of erecting only the topmost section of the tree. I'm still sorry that I never actually witnessed this intermediate step, but happy for them that they eventually settled upon a more feasible solution. This shift probably happened years ago, but you know how it is -- when you're not present for the evolution, you tend to freeze things at various stages.

The ornament box naturally also shrank. What surprised me was how delightful it was to rediscover ornaments I grew up with -- shiny baubles from the 50s, small "stained glass" ornaments that my sister baked in the oven (which foretold her stained glass making in college), and tiny little figures which seemed to have always existed.

First and best! Little pine cone elf! With his feather quill!
The angel, oh my goodness! Can you believe it, people?
Some things remain relatively constant: my father spent most of the time pouring over a transit book, as his preferred manner of interacting is to read nearby, and occasionally insert a statement, pithy remark or rhetorical question. MSNBC was featuring video snippets from a "rogue internet videographer," who chronicled his outrage over police officers parking too close to fire hydrants, alleged prostitute activity, and other various infractions of the law. "Who IS this pain in the ass?" wondered my father, barely lifting his eyes from his book.

Added since I have been gone. Birds are always nice.
One of the best of the old ornament boxes! Always loved the color and shape.
Meanwhile, my Mom was delivering hanging guidelines, with a sense of foregone conclusion, though I had no memory of these preferences. I learned that one of her oldest friends had originally given us the two pine cone elves and that they are always hung together, a practice which I had failed to pick up on. But now that I knew that, it seemed only right. I gestured to various boxes: Should we hang these? Oh, yes. The golden apples have to go on! Oh yes, we always hang the white hearts. The gold pears, too: a must.

I commented on an ornate painted wooden ornament hanging from a nearby lamp:
"That's from Andy*!" my Mom exclaimed: "Don't you remember that??"

"Oh! Really? Nope, I don't remember that at all...

Mom shook her head. "I have always loved the drummer, I hang it every year! He fits very nicely into the lamp base. But then you gave Dad those little wooden birds and I like to have them nearby as well."

*An ex boyfriend from -- no exaggeration -- 20 years ago.

We finished the little tree over a couple sessions, with my sister also adorning it. A much more mellow affair. And on Christmas Eve there was such a nice sweetness to opening my shipping box and distributing presents; and then seeing the folks disappear to their separate hiding places and emerge with variously colored boxes that were then sprinkled around the base. Happens most everywhere, I know; and to all the parents out there, present distribution is old hat -- but somehow, the pooling together of presents, as seen activity, as adults -- struck me as lovely. Christmas afternoon, my sister and her boyfriend easily doubled the present mass with their festive offerings. There was much admiration of thought(fulness) and thing; warmth, affection, and laughter; and confections at every turn. Hope Everyone's holiday season has been as lovely!

Parting note: bonus lights tour, courtesy Sister. Here's a smattering of shots, more of which can be found here. The Tuckers and Valenzas don't fool around!
Tuckers: Firefighting and Cartoon Love, in a Small Front Yard
Valenzas: Lit-Up Winter Wonderland.

Snowman, menacing visitors with his broom.

Rarely seen Porcine Claus, on side street.

Closer to home, but not home. Parents say it grows each year.


  1. I came into my relationship with my wife with strong and definite tree decorating rules. She also had taken copious notes on decoration growing up. We used to have energized debates over how the tree should look. I think we'd both admit to moving decorations around on the tree when the other wasn't looking.

  2. Hahaha, I like it! I can imagine this playing out ;)