Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Strange Holiday Season

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!


Janet said...

Jeanie, I can't even imagine putting up 14 trees! I couldn't even get the energy to put up two trees this year! I still only have wreaths on the door and that's it. No Christmas spirit this year. I love seeing all your treasured ornaments and it makes me think of mine. I had one last blue glass ornament that was on my first Christmas tree when I was only a few months old (71 yrs ago) and last year I broke it. Silly me, I kept the pieces and wrapped them in a cloth and put them in a box. I couldn't bear to throw them out. Maybe next year I will.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

14 trees! That is incredible! And so cool! I love that your house looks like a Christmas store! That's what I would expect from you! I love seeing others ornaments and hearing the stories behind them. That cardinal ornament is so pretty, I know you'll always think of Diana when you see that... :(

Christmas came especially fast for me this year, too. I knew it would with our Jamaica trip and all. I'm ready in terms of gifts being bought and wrapped but I'm just starting to feel the Christmas spirit so I wish it wasn't ending so soon!

Beth Leintz said...

You might not be as ready as usual, but I think you're plenty ready! Have a happy holidays!

Tami Hacker said...

Hi Jeanie! I'm a nut too for Christmas decorating. My son asked me the other night how many Christmas trees are in our living room. I asked him decorated trees or any Christmas tree...he said all of them. So, I counted...they are nine trees...three are decorated with ornaments and six are table/landscape Christmas trees worked into vignettes...and that is only our living room. I totally get your love for decorating!
I love your tour of special ornaments and their memories!

Merry Christmas to you your love ones, Tami

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

14 trees--I love it! I only have 2, and I'd love to have more. I enjoyed seeing the ornaments that are special to you. I, too, have some that have meanings attached--given to me long ago, handmade, etc.

Merry Christmas, Jeanie!

Jenny Woolf said...

What a fairyland your place must be with many trees, decorated or not. I think that when everything's a little bit discombobulated, less is just as good as more, though. Your ornaments are beautiful. I love the Eiffel Tower globe. I usually am afraid to bring back glass ornaments because they so often get broken but we did manage to bring a few back from Germany and Switzerland in recent years.

We still put the stars up that our older daughter made when she was about 10, and the little mouse that the other daughter and her friend chose with such care at age

Christmas is all about celebration, and it is very much the feeling that matters - so have a wonderful one!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Darling Jeanie,

I started out reading your post here and I agreed about it all being OK if all there is are lights on the tree. My little real tree (OUR FIRST REAL TREE IN 33 years!) only has a string of lights. Today marks my first day of a two week vacation from school and school has been wild. No time to clean house, do laundry, let alone decorate! So I left my tree as is, and it is pleasing to me.

However, as I scrolled down, I saw memories. Your text explaining who gave them to you opened up another door of thought for me....first of all, I HAVE THAT SAME LION ORNAMENT! teeeeheee....but then I was reminded that I no longer have my parents' 1950s ornaments. Those things would have brought a slice of their lives back to me....but I don't have them. I see your sweet little bear ornaments, and I am thinking about the one darling felted bunny that I have sitting in front of me here, that my husband gave me last Christmas. I wonder, should I put it on my little could be the beginning of a new collection of memories. Thank you for helping me start a new tradition today. Much love, Anita

Joanne Huffman said...

I love the idea of a house full of trees. Enjoy what you have put up and take a break from putting absolutely every ornament up on the trees that aren't full; it's OK to pause and tread water while you're swimming across The Channel. Have a very Merry and Peaceful and Restorative Christmas.

shoreacres said...

Your Christmas decorating posts always leave me a little -- overwhelmed. I love seeing the ornaments, and hearing of the memories, though.

It suddenly occurs to me that I do have three trees, even though I only decorate one with lights and ornaments. I also have one of those large, white ceramic trees with the little lights, that my mom made. And, I have a small, foresty-looking artificial one that came with pinecones. I decorate that one with seashells, fossils, and such that I've picked up.

I will have one ornament in my Christmas post -- the angel who lives at the top of my decorated tree. She's a bit -- homespun!

littleRamstudio said...

Just love that your trees are strung with such memories, they must bring such cheer to your home.
Heather :)

Anonymous said...

Some years you can't do as much, but it sounds like you can do at least 50% this year, and that you'll be able to do all of it next year.

What beautiful memories in each ornament - WOW - you are a lucky person :)

must love junk said...

Jeanie, I love all of your meaningful, sweet ornaments!
Merry Christmas! :)

ineedorange said...

Jeanie, you are the best Memory Savorer.

Thanks for letting us have a peek at your holiday! :-)

Kitty said...

I think my favorite part of decorating the tree is revisiting the memories that the ornaments hold. Sharing yours has been a wonderful experience. Love and Merry Christmas to you and Rick. Kitty

The Artful Diva said...

So festive! I haven't gotten your card yet...the Post Office has been very good about forwarding my mail...something to look forward to - a card from YOU!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

Christmas happens anyway! Boy have I learned that. But I'm so sorry you got sick! I hope you're one hundred percent now. Lovely seeing your personal treasures. I can't imagine more! Haha! Have a lovely Christmas! SO glad you took a moment to let me know you stopped by!

~*~Patty S said...

You seem like a bundle of energy to me.
It is the taking down that has trimmed my sails over the years...I decided if it wasn't fun...well you know.
Enjoy * Enjoy.
Wishing you and yours a Very Merry Christmas Jeanie.
Here's to a lovely new year too

Marilyn said...

You have such wonderful family history in your decorations. I love it. Happy Christmas!!!!

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