It's not about the house.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Old Christmas

The following is actually a first draft of something I planned to tweak a lot (as in, you know, actually finish) when I got home from work this afternoon. But instead of getting home from work this afternoon, I spent six hours in psych emergency getting my Lady re-admitted to the loony bin. Yeesh. And here I thought this shit was over with for now. I tell you what: y'alls had better pray out loud the damn dog don't have cancer.

Oh yeah, that was not a joke: the dog might have skin cancer. Let's hear it for 2010 so far!


Day two is a bit too early to reneg on my posting-every-other-day New Year's resolution, though -- so here it is, in all its rough-hewn glory. Think of it as a little glimpse, for all you budding me-scholars out there, into the inner sanctum of my "writing process" (for which read, as My Lady said today: "what happens when you take colace").

And now, if you'll excuse me, I gots to get some potato chips to go with this champagne... 

.             . 

I had a sort of epiphany this year about the tree...

Actually, this year, I didn't plan on having one at all. I know you're probably getting tired of hearing about it, but Mom died three weeks before Christmas, and at first my heart just wasn't in it. Forget it, I thought. With no children to disappoint, why even bother? But the big-hearted kid I'm married to insisted.

He said we had to. He said it wouldn't be right. He said Mom wouldn't like to hear we didn't have one -- and especially not if I blamed it on her. So I gave in. A little bit out of survivor's guilt, but mostly to avoid the first post-funereal marital scrap.

It didn't work, of course. We were fighting before we pulled in to the lot. But that was only because I said he could chose where we bought it (seeing as how I didn't want a damn tree in the first place, what did it matter) and he said he didn't care -- but then, as soon as I turned left to go to the place I like that always has the super-best trees in the world, he went and muttered something about how he really liked the folks who ran the garden center up the road.

"Well, why couldn't you have just said that in the first place?" I hollered as I drove 360 degrees around the rotary and back over the bridge. "I swear to god, you're such a girl sometimes!"

And we were off.

We sat in the parking lot, fighting in the car for so long that we set the alarm off when we finally got out (oh yeah, the new car has an alarm. Seriously, I've got to tell you about the new car one of these days. And also name it.). Then I sulked around the edges of the lot and let him choose the tree. It was late in the season and there weren't many left, but he managed to find one I would deem particularly ass. I would, that is, if I gave a shit. But I didn't. If the big girlie I married was going to insist we have a goddamn tree this year, it made sense that it should be Charlie-Browny. So yes, Virginia, we can have the too-small one with the big, wing-like tumor of a branch sticking weirdly out the side. That's great. I love it. But next year we're going to the place I want to go.

Well, needless to say, by the time we got it home and put it up, the fight was over and it wasn't all that Charlie-Browny after all. Or tiny, either.

That's it now, you understand. After it was up for three weeks and I took the decorations off it yesterday. So as you can see, I may have been a bit irrational in my seething disparagement of it on the lot. But I do usually get one a little bigger, a bit wider around -- in that same corner, it usually extends out past the doorjamb. That's irrational also, I realize, but what do you want me to say? When it comes to Christmas shit, I'm usually a giant girlie too.

In fact, my first epiphany ten years ago was brought about by just that girlitude. I used to always put it up the day after Thanksgiving, see. Couldn't wait to digest my pumpkin pie and haul out the boxes (of which there were more and more every year) of Christmas crap. Johnny's tradition, however, is to take it down on Twelfth Night -- which I've always called King's Day and he knows as Old Christmas, so I'm compromising (see? I can) -- and after dismantling a couple seven-week-old tinderboxes, I decided that putting it off fourteen days or so was a minor sacrifice, compared to having old Tannenbaum spontaneously combusticate  my living room.

This year's epiphany -- which I remembered as I tucked them away -- was that, on a small(er) tree, I didn't have to hang up everything. After the poor blue spruce (or whatever) sat naked as a Na'Vi* for the best part of a week and I finally worked up the nerve to fetch the box, I realized that the best way I could have a tree this year and still honor the memory of Mom, was to hang only the ornaments that meant something. To her, to me, or just to Johnny -- who, god bless his girlie heart, was with her when she went, and sang her out.

So I hung the wee glass pool balls that she gave me when I used to be a shark.

But I left the black one in the box.

I hung the ones made out of wax -- a Jesus, an angel, and this heart:

Mom had them for decades, they've been mine for about one. 
I don't know how they've survived in Destructo's attic.

I hung the plastic apples...

Because you have to hang an apple on your tree. 
It's like a law.

...even the fuzzy one.

But why is it fuzzy? Is it supposed to be mold? 
And why is one leaf fuzzy but the other one is not? 
These are Christmas mysteries we'll never solve.

I hung the funny little Santa-mouse.

I have no idea where he came from or what his story is, 
but he gets special dispensation for his wrong-way candy-cane 
because he's just so oh-my-goodness cute.

I hung the baby Jesuses in wee beds that we made together out of empty walnut shells, back when we were too poor to buy ornaments.

The actual baby was really just a head made out of salt-and-flour dough. He got moldy and disintegrated sometime in the eighties, and ever since they've just been little tiny beds with memories.

I didn't so much hang the worse-for-wear, dead-looking bird, so much as I wired him into place.

 Also the mushroom in the upper right-hand corner. 
I meant to take a picture of it by itself, but I forgot.

I hung the pipe-cleaner snowman that Mrs. Fisher made for me when I was two. Mrs. Fisher lived across the street from us in Mom & Dad's first apartment. She made one of these for each of us Ellia babies.

And yes, I know that snowmen aren't orange. 
What's your point?

And of course I hung the paper Ginger Guy I cut-and-pasted by myself in nursery school.

When I wanted to fix him up a bit a few years later, 
give him cleaner edges and what-not, 
Mom said I would have to do it over her dead body... 

But you know what? 
I think I'll leave him as he is.


Ladyscot said...

I love ornaments with special meaning. What a wondeful way to honor her memory and abide by her wishes, as I am sure she would have wanted you to have the tree.

12ontheinside said...

Lovely idea, and now I feel like a grinch because I didn't put up a tree, or lights, or anything.

I cannot believe your paper gingerbread is still looking so good.

pork luck said...

Ok, i know your intention was NOT to make me cry a bit here at my desk...but damn it.. i did.

ege said...

Lady -- Thanks. There are dozens more, but I didn't want to be a bore.

12 -- Grinch!

PorkPie -- Oh man. I'm about to write about what a pain in the ass Johnny is while he's trying to quit smoking, and I promise you there is absolutely nothing poignant about that!

Khurston said...

oh i bet that snowman used to be red.

Sparkle Plenty said...

That is the most beautiful tree ever.