I love Christmas decorating. I have always loved the decorations and the warm feeling they bring to one's heart. I haven't always felt that but I have always loved the concept! I can remember many years when I felt more like Scrooge and humbug than merry. Those years when we seemed to be rushing through dance performances, ball practices or games, office gatherings, one family gathering after another, etc., etc., etc. are the ones when I didn't feel much more than a humbug. One year we never even put up a Christmas tree because we were so rushed and I was feeling so overwhelmed and cramped in the little house we lived in and I just never felt that Christmas spirit.
Then, several years ago, I moved to a new house. I bought a new tree and began to assemble a new collection of ornaments for this tree. I had a fresh start and a blank slate and I absolutely wallowed in the spirit for a couple of years. I had plenty of time to decorate - and once or twice even had a friend come in and help me wrestle with the tree and the garlands and the lights to get them hung and all decorated. I took time to shop - even though I didn't have loads to spend, I had time and could search for just the right things and find them within my budget. Plus, I had the addition of new granddaughters to refresh that child-like wonder of the season. So, not only did I wallow in it - I forced everybody around me to do so as well. I hosted the gathering for the co-workers. I cooked and entertained family and neighbors. I really oozed of the spirit of the season. This went on for about three years.
Then, I stumbled across the love of my life in mid-September of 2009. We decided to get married on New Year's Eve. Not only that, but we decided to get married in a house we were refreshing. (We weren't really remodeling or making structural changes - just updating wall colors and floor refinishing and combining my furniture with his.) So, my focus that year was not really on Christmas decorating so much. We were too busy trying to get our digs ready for habitation and for the wedding gathering. Oh, we put up trees and decorations here and there but the real push was to get walls painted and furniture moved. We celebrated with my children and parents and then with his children and parents. Then, we cleared out the Christmas trees to make room for our family. We entertained almost forty people for the wedding ceremony and that was just our immediate family - children, parents, siblings, and their spouses and children.
Last year was the first year that we combined the entire crew and had them all mish-mashed together under the same roof at the same time to celebrate together and begin some new family traditions. So, when it came time to decorate. I was ultra-sensitive that we have plenty of the old from both family lines. I was overwhelmed with trying to prepare for four grown children and their families and both sets of our parents. I was anxious about following Mike's family's traditions and gatherings. I was worried that he and his children might not feel welcome and comfortable being enfolded into my family's traditions and gatherings. It was ultra stressful!
Finally, this year I have come to realize that what will be will be. I had hoped to really gild the lily here at our beautiful home and have everything ready for a Southern Living or Saturday Evening Post sort of celebration. I envisioned a Christmas tree in every room and twinkling lights everywhere and glistening and glowing abounds. Somehow, life has a way of waking us up and making us realize what really is important, doesn't it?
I was busy dashing here and there at work with no time or energy for shopping at the end of the day. So, most of the shopping was done online and what I didn't get shipped here to the house, was picked up in a matter of a couple of days jaunting out to a couple of stores each of those days. We had only a handful of things left on our list and Mike and I took time to go together yesterday and pick those up with no rushing and no fighting traffic or crowds - just a leisurely trip to Tractor Supply Company and Bonnie's Barnyard. I spent some time last week wrapping and sorting things while Mike was at work. So, I wasn't pressed and stressed to get that all done.
I hung wreaths, garland. and lights outside one afternoon at the beginning of the month. Mike helped me drag the tree up from the basement a couple of weeks ago and set it up (another post about that later). Cassie and Evie were here and helped us to decorate the tree. The stockings were hung at the chimney with care about a week ago. Then, I began coughing and hacking and sniffing and snuffling. For a couple of days after our school holiday began, I spent most of the time in bed feeling yucky.
I have truly come to realize and internalize what I have told folks for years. I do absolutely love Christmas decorations and want everything to look just like the magazines and storybooks we envision. But really, celebrating is not about the ornaments or the wrapped boxes or gift bags. It is not about the delectable dishes and baked sweets. Celebrating is all about sharing time with folks you love. It is about the people and the experiences you share with them.
I do look forward to gilding this lily and dressing her up for Christmas from foundation to roof-peak someday. For now, though, I'm too busy laughing and sharing time with those I love.