‘A Grinch Guide to Holiday decor’
Well, maybe not ‘Grinch’. Make that more of a ‘minimalist’. It’s not that I don’t enjoy Christmas (well, not as much as I enjoy Thanksgiving; everybody who knows me knows that.) And it’s not that I don’t appreciate a nice Christmas Tree. In fact, I remember gazing out of the car window as we worked our way through small town after small town on those long pre-interstate drives up to my Gramma’s in Northern Illinois, admiring the Trees that were strategically placed in front-room picture windows for maximum drive-by impact.
But I’ve never been one of those people who fusses with the ornaments on her own Christmas Tree, arranging and rearranging them every time she walks by, striving for Holiday Perfection. In fact, I do everything I can to avoid having my own Christmas Tree.
Oh, there for a few years, when The Child was an Actual Child, I condescended to allowing a Tree on the premises. But I got The Dude and The Child to go get the tree. (I made this sound like a fun Daddy-and-Daughter outing, while I cleverly stayed home and sipped champagne.) And I threw a Tree Trim Party to get other people to actually do the decorating of said tree. I made this sound fun, too, by luring friends over with the promise of more champagne — and my Famous Pot Roast — in return for their bringing over an ornament (and this is the important part) hanging it on the Tree. (I’ve told the story of my Tom Sawyerish get-someone-else-to-do-the-work Tree Trickery in a previous hilarious/nostalgic post called ‘(N)o Tannenbaum’, which I invite you to read when you’re done chuckling over this one.)
Well, then The Child (gasp) grew up and, what with one thing and another, including the fact that she (double gasp) didn’t believe in Santa anymore, it seemed a bit like overkill to ‘do’ the Tree with the lights and the ornaments and the cookie for Santa by the fireplace with the glass of milk with a sip left in it.
Interesting note about The Child and the Believing in Santa Thing. She once asked, “if there’s a Santa, how come he leaves presents under the Tree wrapped in the same wrapping paper we use?” Ever quick on my feet (and on the uptake), I replied, “Clever, Economical Santa. He doesn’t wrap the presents up at the North Pole. He wraps them right in your house, using the wrapping paper that’s already here. That way he can focus more on the presents themselves.” Whew.
So we started downsizing the Tree. The Child wasn’t usually home very long, what with college and all, so weaseled out of decorating duty. Though I did get The Dude to string the lights. (I myself carefully placed any ornaments that could be hung one-handed — since I was gripping a champagne flute during the entire process.)
Yet, as our Child continued to grow, our Trees continued to shrink. The good news about our smaller trees was that we could throw a few lights on them, and except for a few treasured salt-dough artworks made by a Dear Friend, skip the ornaments entirely (no room on those teensy branches!).
Now, while not exactly Childless (though she does live elsewhere and comes home only often enough to inspire the YoYoMa Syndrome in her mother) we are officially Treeless. Oh, I do decorate — sort of. But one rule I do follow is not to decorate for Christmas (even oh-so-minimally) — or to even think about Christmas — until my Thanksgiving turkey and all its leftovers are thoroughly digested. So, even though the airwaves and my email inbox were chockfull of Black Friday and CyberMonday temptations, I waited till December 1 to switch my turkey cocktail napkins to my Rudolph ones.
It did make me sad, though, since those of you who know me well know that Thanksgiving and not Christmas is my Very Favorite Holiday. (You can read why here, but basically it’s because Thanksgiving requires no gifts, no religion, no carols, no tipping, and — with the possible exception of my turkey napkins — no decorations.) Though I do condescend to whip out a couple of Christmas-themed table whatnots.
Speaking of tables, I do sometimes bestir myself to sprinkle a bit of Holiday Fairy Dust on the coffee table. This year was one of those times.
Yeah, that’s about the gist of it, decorating-wise. If, and when, we ever hear the Patter of Little Feet around the joint, we will, of course, reconsider the Whole Tree Thing. I come from a long line of Santa Believers (including myself when I was a WhipperSnapper) and I certainly don’t want to break that chain.
Funny thing about Christmas Trees, though. They do have that wonderful fir aroma. Which is kind of a downside of not having one. But this year, I had just finished my slapdash sort-of-decorating when The Dude came home, gave a hearty happy sniff and asked, “Hey, did you get a Christmas Tree?!?” I shook my head with a happy smile and pointed at the newest addition to my minimalist decor. See if you can spot it in the photo below.
It’s my new favorite decoration: it smells like Christmas, but reminds me of Thanksgiving. Because Thanksgiving is when I got it, as a ‘hostess gift’ from a most thoughtful dinner guest — a guest who knows me (and my lack of enthusiasm for decoration) very well indeed.
Until next week, may your days be merry and bright, and your decorating be gorgeous and light!
Amagansett, New York. December 2017