03 December 2016

Trim Up The Tree...

...but not quite yet!

As I'd reported in my main blog, on the first Sunday of Advent I managed to get the Christmas candles up in the front window, the door wreaths up, and the wreath, little blue tree, the Santas in the chairs, and the Father Christmas flag up on the porch, and draped the net lights over the bushes out front. The other lights would have to wait. I had taken Monday and Tuesday off, and this helped greatly. I spent Monday morning divesting Thanksgiving and dusting off things, and putting out the Christmas stakes (reindeer, candy cane, and jingle bell) outside and the mailbox cover. Plus Woody and Holly, the log reindeer. I'd planned to have the foyer all decorated when James got home, but the string of lights on the mini-ornament tree failed and I wasn't going out during rush hour. Instead I toted all the boxes that needed to come upstairs upstairs (I even managed to get the village upstairs; it's not heavy, just awkward.)

Tuesday morning I had to run to Michaels. All they had were LED strings in sets of fifty. I used them, but the tree now looks garish. Sigh. The kids today will grow up thinking LEDs are normal and pretty, but they will never know how soft and sweetly lovely incandescent lights were, comforting and gentle rather than garish. Anyway, I was able to finish up the foyer, and then I put up the library tree and the decorations dotting the library shelves and the couple of things in the downstairs bath.

Wednesday I had to go back into work; got my telework training done for another year and sent a file on for approval. Unfortunately I think the chicken salad in my sandwich was starting to spoil. I got very queasy after lunch and finally came home. I logged on to work via my computer in case something needed immediate attention, but it was all quiet and I swigged some Pepto Bismol and finally had a short nap. James was late so I roused up and busied myself putting greenery in the china cabinet and cleaning off things in prep for decorations.

Thursday was a telework day, but I got a bunch done during lunch and after work: put up the ceppo on the china cabinet, the feather tree with the vintage ornaments and the gilded walnuts I made as a teenager (so I guess they're now vintage, too!), and finally the table, which had to be cleaned off first (I swear, horizontal surfaces in this house gather so much junk). I did everything but the "1910 tree" because there wasn't time, but did get to the gingerbread and candy cane decorations in the kitchen. This was all possible because James came home late because he was picking up his new glasses. They are pewter colored and look super with his beard. I even had the Christmas village up on the mantelpiece before he walked in the door.

Friday morning the decorating continued—the "1910 tree" becoming the centerpiece on the table, the Rudolph tree going up in the hall. I had to dust and polish my entire bureau before I could put the little Italian and Scottish decorations up our bedroom. I absolutely don't understand how the bedroom gets so dusty. I could probably leave the spare room without dusting for a year and it wouldn't accumulate as much as it does in our bedroom in a week.

All I had left was the woodland tree, but it was time for me to get dressed and head to the Apple Annie Craft Show at the Catholic Church of St. Ann off Roswell Road. I don't even know anymore how many years I have been going to this event. I like this church; it's a pity it's such a long drive away. There were a lot of jewelry vendors this year. I stopped to talk to the first one, who was a man who made his own links (jump rings) out of wire and then he makes chain-mail bracelets from them. If "chain mail" sounds big and awkward, these weren't; they were fine and beautiful. He does the chain work and his wife the beadwork. I felt old; I mentioned Trifari to him and he had never heard of it. ☹  It was such a part of my life growing up that it's hard to believe that no one remembers any longer except for some jewelry collectors.

Well, I had two surprises, one sad and one good. The sad one was that they are remodeling the meditation garden, so I couldn't have my usual peaceful visit. I was a bit unhappy at first, because they have torn out all the plants and the pond and the statues and they're putting in granite. But it turns out that they are building a columbarium, a place to inter ashes, like the place at the Church of All Saints where Amy Rutledge is, and a prayer garden. It was supposed to be done by Christmas. I know when it is done it will be very nice but I was sorry that the rustic look of it is going away.

The happy surprise is that I ran into Claudia Barbour. We chatted a few minutes and I invited her to the Twelfth Night party.

Most of the things I would have liked to buy were very expensive: solid wood lazy Susans with beautiful blocky designs, natural wood "no electric" speakers (I actually would have bought one of these but we had nowhere to display them properly) with beautiful geometric decorations, solid wood crosses hand-carved. Not a lot of cute clothing for grandchildren this year, either.

Did stop in the sanctuary to say some prayers before I left. I always pray for James and Tucker and Snowy to be healthy and for me to be a better person, but mostly I prayed for all this political hatred to end. Reading Facebook has become a chore and the vitrol from both sides is frightening.

I stopped at Michaels on the way home to get some Sharpie markers, Trader Joe's to stock up on Christmas goodies, and finally at Kaiser at Town Center to pick up my levothroid. I was thirsty and feeling a bit cranky, but then the phone rang in the purse of the lady ahead of me, playing the Boston Pops' "Sleigh Ride." It cheered me up no end.

I got the woodland tree up tonight before settling in to watch Christmas specials tonight: John Denver and the Muppets, A Muppet Family Christmas, "Santa Claustrophobia" from Hill Street Blues, and Christmas Past.

Christmas on the American Frontier 1800-1900, John E. Baur
I got this at the library book sale, having taken it out at least once. Taken directly from diaries, journals, and histories by the people who lived the experience, chapters address different aspects of the American pioneer experience, starting from the founding of the country and the customs brought from Great Britain, France, and Spain and introduced to the native inhabitants, some who took great enjoyment from the holiday, but sadly, mainly due to alcohol. Some inspiring stories tell about settlers, cattlemen, explorers, and trappers making the best of what they had and sharing what little they had with others, or riotous dances at distant ranches, but more often the tales are bleak: people lost in blizzards just feet from the homes they were heading for, groups on short rations enduring another hungry day, cowboys spending the day tending cattle and wishing for some camaraderie, rough-and-tumble miners breaking from hardscrabble life for one day, and even British immigrants learning to endure the wild Western weather. Other customs are learned as Spanish customs like farolitoes and La Posadas catch the eye of visitors.

This book is from 1961 so the text may not be as softened as it might be at the present time, but the main draw here are the actual words of the pioneers. Coloring-book type illustrations break up the text. Slightly dry, but with some surprises (for instance, the word "hop" as a synonym for a dance; it sounds like a 1950s term, but goes back at least one hundred years earlier).

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