13 December 2009

A Day of Lights and the Glitter of Tinsel

Oh, it's been a busy weekend preparing for Christmas.

Usually I put up the tree on my birthday, which was Friday, but James hadn't brought the tree upstairs yet, and I still had the Rudolph tree to put up. So I did so, and had to fix a couple of other things. Then I cleared off the coffee table so it would be ready for me to sort out ornaments.

I felt myself starting to obsess about this and had to slow myself down.

We had to get up early for Hair Day on Saturday, as our hairdresser, Sheri, was going to a Christmas party. We brought cornbread to go with the main dish, different kinds of chili (Alex made three! a white turkey chili, a regular chili with pork, and Cincinnati chili), and gingerbread (unlike Sook, it's not "fruitcake weather" for me, but "gingerbread weather"). Before we went to the hobby shop, we stopped at Kroger for milk and things. No worries about the milk staying in the truck; it was colder than the refrigerator outside, a chill day with temps in the thirties.

While we were at the hobby shop I took the opportunity to go to the hardware store across the parking lot and buy a space heater for our bathroom. With that big picture window in it, it's never warm enough in there in the winter. (Saturday night it was about 57°F in there; in 16 minutes it had raised the temp 10 degrees.) The owner was exceedingly grumpy that I used a coupon and that I paid with my credit card.

We were keeping an eye on the weather. We were supposed to drive out to Birmingham tonight to our friend Shari's Christmas party, but they had been predicting a hard rain since Thursday. Now, as the forecast settled out, it looked like the periods of rain were supposed to be worst at 5 p.m. (when we would be driving out there) and 1 a.m., when we would be coming home. Plus, last year we went to Hair Day and Shari's party on the same day, too. Between Ron and Lin's cats and Shari's cats, I ended up riding home from Birmingham with a burgeoning allergy attack.

So we reluctantly decided not to go, and instead stopped at BJs on the way home for something we'd forgotten, then came home. We had one of those Hormel packaged meat dinners, beef with bourbon sauce, with some white rice. Pretty good. Then we moved the rocking chair into our bedroom and James brought the tree up, and the box with the ornaments, and I commenced to decorate, since we wanted something Christmasy.

I just took my time. I didn't start until after eight, and we had to fluff the tree and, ::sigh::...get the lights working...parts of two strings were out...we just pressed at them; the bulbs must have been loose, because that did the trick. And refasten the lights to the branches, as taking the tree up that narrow staircase isn't conducive to tight lights. LOL. I was even on chat for a while as I put the last set or two of ornaments on the tree. You see, James found a chat program for the Droids. He set his up, then helped me set mine up. Yep, I can chat on the phone now!

I just decided to wait until today to put on the tinsel. James said last night, "You know, you don't have to put on tinsel." Well, yeah, I do. Our trees always had tinsel. [By "tinsel," I mean silver icicles, of course.] My grandparents' and relatives' trees always had tinsel. Garland is okay for the smaller trees, but it's not really a Christmas tree to me unless there's tinsel. It makes the tree live, and breathe.

(We were talking about tinsel last night on chat. Jen said she had only ever know the light, mylar stuff. Pretty much so did I. Lead tinsel was banned by the time I was growing up. I had relatives who still had it, because as a prudent, non-wasteful person, you removed it from the tree and returned it to its holder till next year. In fact, we did the same with the mylar, unless it got too wrinkled. And I did so when I moved out on my own. But the tinsel they're making today is thinner than the mylar tinsel from back then. It's like that fluffy "angel hair" that was once popular for trees. It's so thin and frangible that I have to remove it after Christmas and toss it. Makes me feel wasteful.)

Didn't get to bed until two, and had a nice sleep in, then went to Costco for lunch...cough...we were actually looking for a gift, but they didn't have it. Lots of nice samples for Christmas: chocolates, crab cakes, lobster spread, salsa, meatballs, cocoa and biscotti, potstickers, chicken nuggets, cheesecake, garlic chicken pasta, gouda cheese...

Found the gift in Best Buy, so we're all done. One may need augmenting. I'll see when I wrap.

Anyway, spent the rest of the afternoon tinseling the tree. When you're starting at the back, on the first branch, you wonder if it's worth it.

When you're halfway through and your back is hurting, you wonder if it's worth it.

When your hands are cold and the static electricity is making the tinsel stick to the carpet, you, the end table next to the tree, and the fireplace hearth, you wonder if it's worth it.

When it's finished, and James pushes the tree inch by inch back into the corner (because it can't be decorated in the corner, as there's no way to get to the back) on the unstable carpet, and all the lights are plugged into the timer and it turns on...yeah, it's worth it. Every single aching muscle.

And then, although I had said I would do it later, I vacuumed because I couldn't stand it anymore. And then I sat in front of the tree and put the manger set up, figure by figure, the one bought piece by piece by my mother from the bins at Woolworths and W.T. Grants and Newberrys...the Holy Family, the angel, three kings, three camels and the camel driver, the ox and ass, the man offering eggs, the boy playing the flute, the shepherd, and a flock of sheep and one goat and the sheepdog, all in or around the wooden stable. I bought one of those lights for it, the ones that go in village houses, and it has a yellow light bulb, of course, so the Baby Jesus is softly illuminated with heavenly Light.

Somewhere in the middle of all of that we had some thin steaks for supper with ramen noodles, and I finally got to sit and watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

And now we are having our annual Remember WENN Christmas chat party. We gather in the chat room and watch the episode "Christmas in the Airwaves" together. Always great fun!

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