Maybe it's because Thanksgiving was so late. Maybe it's because I lost a full week to the flu and another to Rick's trade show trip to Las Vegas. But I am totally unprepared for the season.
Now, there's an irony to this. If most people came into my house they'd say, "What do you mean you're not decorated?" Because there are trees everywhere (and never mind that a few still only have lights and garland; they're still pretty.)
But they only have lights and garland. They need all the things that make the trees special.
I started putting ornaments on the big tree yesterday. There are boxes and boxes of them. Guess what -- they aren't all going on this year. And I think that'll be OK.
So, what do you choose? Well, there are the "must haves" -- the ones that make it my tree and Rick's tree. Those are the photo ornaments depicting something we did together, some magic moment or holiday. The ornaments from our vacations and the ones he's brought back to me from business trips.
There are the special bits -- the sole ornament from my grandmother's tree, fragile, beaded, but still beautiful.
There are ornaments that remind me of my solo travels, too, and PBS meetings all over the country. A cardinal from St. Louis, bought with my blog friend Diana, who is no longer with us, except of course, in our hearts. Oh, that was such a glorious day of Christmas shopping and butterflies!
There are the gifts from friends I have known for 40 years and more. College friend Laura's cross stitch and needlepoint. An angel and wonderful ornaments from Lisa, a high school friend. More from former teacher, now friend Lin than I can say. Pretty stars and uniquely made ornaments from Bonnie. Cheery offerings from Patty. A bird from blogger Joanne. I've known Nancy since I was four. She's added wonderful ceramic and other one-of-a-kind ornaments to my tree. Quilter and creative Santa-maker Virginia is represented by Santas and holiday girls, cows and lambs.
There is the ornament I made with my friend Michele when we were in fourth or fifth grade; the yarn character that came with flowers my friend Jerry sent me when I got very sick in college while we were on a theatre tour in the Upper Peninsula over spring break. The little bear in the sailor suit was from my dad -- that also came on flowers sent for my birthday one year. Shiny brites from my mom and dad's tree, along with lots of felties. Sweet angels and swirly balls came from former roommate and art-sale friend Jane, along with a wonderful beeswax snowman.
You'll find the macaroni angels I made with my friend Richard one year. And a personalized ornament from my college roommate LeAnne, who shared these the last time I saw our whole gang together in 1982.
Cats from Kate. European ornaments from Wally and Carolyn. Marvelously inventive ornaments from my late colleague Jack. Ornaments from my late friend Patricia that bring tears to my eyes, along with offerings from Mary Jane, also no longer with us.
A cardinal from Judy came with the Norfolk pine she sent when my dad died at Christmas 21 years ago. A series of stuffed wreaths and stars came from my cousin Patty, circa mid-70s. A clothespin cheerleader was made by our Junior League president back when I was on the board, while clothespin three kings were made by my dental clinic colleague Sharon back in the 70s. A Leo the Lion (my astrological sign) decked out in the robes of Father Christmas from Mark and Jan is there too.
And of course, the ornament Kevin gave me when he was just a little guy -- an orange cat flying a plane that he picked out himself -- has a place of honor.
This year on my big tree there are few ornaments I bought for just fun. Some, yes, because I loved them so much or they were too darned cute or pretty not to add. But for the most part, this year's tree represents all the people I've loved and the experiences I've had. It reflects memories of special moments shared, times tearful and times joyful. The creativity of artistic friends and the thoughtfulness of those who traveled far and brought back something to share. And of course, pets past and present.
This year I have 14 trees up -- large and small. (My house is very small. It's overdone. I know. It looks like a holiday store exploded). Not all are decorated yet -- the Solstice tree gets a smattering today; the cat tree is done. Dad's tree and Mom's tree still need the rest of their ornaments. And I don't know what I'll do with the three boxes in the basement that aren't getting on the big tree like they usually do. Maybe next year I'll just have to add another.
I can hear the protests now!
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