Saturday, December 27, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree.....

There are, it seems, some Doubting Thomases out there, who require proof that I actually got my Christmas tree decorated! Oh ye of little faith! Does it matter that I didn't personally hang each ornament?

After all, it was I who drove out into the madness a few days before Christmas and found a tree. No small feat when you consider how many people in these parts put their tree up the day after Thanksgiving!

It was I who feebly bargained with the tree seller. To no avail, I might add. He knew he had a pigeon. He recognized the desperate gleam in the eye.

It was I who climbed up on my sewing table, at considerable risk to life and arthritic limb, and stretched upwards to precariously haul down the various boxes of Christmas goodies.

It was I, also, who sat and untangled the ninety nine strings of lights of various vintages and, mindful of the proximity of Herald Angels and Santa's behaviour spies, managed not to give voice to the vehement imprecations that sprang to my lips.

It was I who circled the tree and wove the strands of lights [those from the ninety nine that still worked] in and out and around the aromatic branches, almost dying by strangulation on a few occasions. And it was I who stood back in admiration and declared it the nicest tree we'd found in years!

It was the Bean and girlfriend who did the actual decorating while we were off to the hospital. And a lovely job they did of it. Mother-in-law came home late on Christmas Day and is doing fairly so far, but very weak still. One day at a time.

Meanwhile, it is I who will be keeping that tree up and watered until January sixth, though all around me have theirs to the curb by Monday morning! I love the soft glow from the little tree lights; the glisten of the baubles; the memories of five shiny eyed children every Christmas morning for so many years; the fresh piney scent; the after-Christmas peace.

The tree is decorated.


Footnote: In case anyone should dare to try to take the tree down in my absence before the appointed time, Casper has volunteered his services as tree guardian.

Would you like to see his claws?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oh, Tidings Of Stress and Oy!

Inspiration's been at a low ebb around here lately. Talking with Rise last week, we made a pact to each post something the Tuesday before Christmas, on the subject of Christmas. It is now 1:21 a.m. Wednesday, technically, but she's undoubtedly sleeping [or lying in bed counting woolly sheep and listening to the wind howling outside--she doesn't live in Florida, poor dear.] So if it's up when she gets up, that'll count as me having kept my side of the deal?

And what is my excuse for being so late you ask?

"Christmas is coming, and the goose is getting fat," but I'm having technical difficulties. The main one being that I just now managed to wipe out two hours worth of writing by inadvertantly brushing my wrist off some mysterious "erase everything" button. Yes, those are tear streaks on my face. A random sampling of the other accumulated technical difficulties would include, but not be limited to;

Mother-in-law in the hospital, trying to die, again;

Doctors trying to prevent her from doing so;

Father-in-law trying to convince everybody that his mind is still like a steel trap [I have some unsettling news for him.]

The OC juggling his work with bedside vigils at the hospital;

And me, trying to organize Christmas, emphasis on trying.

My mother-in-law is not afraid to die. She's eighty nine and very frail and she's in a lot of pain. She's tired. And she can't clean and scrub like she used to. She's been ready to go for a long while now. Her place in heaven is secure though. She's worked hard all her life and had some hair raising adventures. Which is all good, but not what has secured her place in heaven. That would be her husband. No, he doesn't have influence up there, but They can see what goes on down here, so They know that she is a saint. Right up there with Mother Theresa. I'd have murdered him in his sleep years ago.

So here I am trying to organize Christmas. And wishing I could be a kid again. We didn't have to organize it. We just had to show up. We didn't have to bake all those plum puddings and fruit cakes. You came home from school one afternoon in November and found your mother,elbow deep in raisins and nuts and candied cherries, and it gave you a thrill. Not because you were crazy about fruitcake, but because it meant that Christmas was coming [and the goose was getting fat!]

Of course you were too well brought up to ever say that you weren't exactly your mother's fruit cake's biggest fan. Besides, you always choked down a slice, since that was the only way to come by the marzipan and frosting that came with it. It was out of the question to just pick off the pieces you liked. In for a penny, in for a pound. If you'd had your way though [a rare occurance back then,] you'd have eaten the entire coat of marzipan off the cake and left the densely studded fruity part for the aunties and the neighbour ladies who went into paroxysms of delight with every bite! But greediness and gluttony were strongly discouraged, so you offered it up for the poor souls in Purgatory.

In early December a child with an inquiring mind might notice that strangely shaped packages were being secreted in the back of the hot press at the top of the stairs. Being very inquisitive, such a child might take her curiosity a step further and try to peek inside such packages. One such, she found, in a mixture of horror and delight, contained a beautiful, golden haired, blue eyed doll! Who could she be for? Could one dare to hope? Turning her over, the better to admire her, the inquisitive child was startled when the doll plaintively bleated "Mama!" at the same time as a key was heard turning in the front door downstairs....consternation as the inquisitive child scrambled to re-wrap the precious package. And oh! The guilt! Trying to act surprised and delighted on Christmas morning!

But did this mean that the man in the red suit was a fairy story? That the wise ones on the playground at school, who sneered that only babies believed in him, were right all along?

And if Mum and Dad were fibbing about this, what else might they be fibbing about?

Who could be trusted?

The most important thing about Christmas, the parents and the nuns kept reminding us, was that it was a celebration of the birth of Baby Jesus. Every year we set up a nativity scene on the hall table. I loved the excitement of reaching into the box and pulling out the figures one by one----Mary, Joseph, the Baby, the shepherds and the wise men, the cows, the donkey and the sheep. Each of the churches in town had a life size stable and manger. I loved to go to see them all. And Christmas carols! Groups would go around at night, stopping at all the houses and singing a few and collecting some coins for their trouble.....Nobody does that here. Maybe they don't even do that there anymore. Christmas has become much more about commerce than about carols.

There was more that the computer gobbled, but since it's 2:30 a.m. I'd better get to bed or I may just sleep right through Christmas!

We did get a tree. It's up, lights on, but no decorations-yet. Tomorrow![Oops! Make that "today!"]

My Christmas elf climbed up on the roof this afternoon and strung the lights!

I baked my own version of fruitcake today with bourbon-soaked nuts and cherries and raisins, much more cakey than fruity! No marzipan though!

Wishing all my bloggy friends a Happy stress- and oy-free Christmas!