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Where we decorate the Christmas tree

by John on December 5th, 2012

When I was growing up, it was important to remember to decorate the tree evenly, all around. I remember one year, where I was, simply, trying to finish up the decorating as quickly as possible1, when I was “politely reminded” by my mother that I needed to decorate all around the tree. I complied – but thought climbing around to the back of the tree was silly.

That is, I thought it was silly until later that night, when family came over, and Aunt Beverly commented how the tree looked different, but gorgeous, from every angle. And then I realized that my mother, just maybe, might have been right in being a bit controlling in her ensuring that the tree be decorated properly. We lived in a split-level house, so the tree was the first thing you saw when you walked in the door, and was visible from most anywhere you might go. And the tree was, rightfully, the focal point to any of the family gatherings from December until early January.

I was reminded of this night from my teenage years just this past weekend, when we pulled out the tree. Sad to say, things started grumpy on my side. Duffy & I got married on December 27, and we decorated with Christmas trees . . . lots of artificial Christmas trees, and we’re still using one of the trees we purchased. Only, to get the tree to the basement, we have to travel through a narrow basement staircase, and that scrunches up all of the branches. And then, to get the tree back upstairs, the branches get even more scrunched up. And those artificial needles? Well, they hurt, a lot, when they embed themselves in your hands as you have dig in to de-scrunchify the branches. And the boxes of Christmas lights and ornaments and decorations, I swear, are heavier every year.

Then, the first string of lights I plugged in didn’t light. I tripped over the chord soon after I started to put a working strand of lights on the tree.

But then, we started decorating as a family.

CJ became fixated upon the train that we were going to set up beneath the tree…until he saw the Star Wars ornaments, where he became fixated upon them. As Yoda made noises when you hit a button, he insisted that the R2-D2 ornament was broken when it didn’t do the same (R2-D2 was “just an ornament”). “Han Sholo” had to be put up next to Chewbacca. And then all of the Star Wars ornaments had to be taken off the tree and played with. Because, obviously, that’s what Star Wars ornaments are for.

Leila was a spitfire. I found myself, commonly, thinking back to my days of decorating, wanting to shout “no, don’t put all of the ornaments together like that!” but, well, a toddler wants to do what a toddler wants to do — and that includes putting the ornaments all together. She couldn’t get ornaments fast enough to put them on the tree. And, god forbid if she ran into an ornament box where the ornament had already been placed on the tree. “It empty!” she’d protest, until you handed her something new to put on tree.

I decorated all around the tree, focusing, mainly, up-high . . . because, well, I’m somewhat tall.

Duffy focused on the middle of the tree.

Roughly 2.5 feet off the ground, is a jumbled, haphazard cluster of ornaments. And I’ll argue that they look perfect, from every angle.


1 See, the teenage me had shit to do – like watch TV & play computer games.

From → Christmas, Family

12 Comments
  1. First of all, I love how you are so musically inclined, you tripped over a chord instead of a cord. It’s like you can’t not think of music.

    I like decorating with my kids. it’s one of the things we make a point to all together, which can be hard with two of our kids who have another family with their own holiday plans.

    • I can’t believe I put chord in . . . I really can’t. Although I’ll admit that cord/chord and pedal/petal always make me think twice, when I’m writing.

  2. I bet your tree is gorgeous.

    • I’m realizing, with all of this, that I neglected to put a picture of the tree up . . . which is horribly lazy of me. I’ll try to rectify that soon 🙂

  3. Aw.

    Our tree is… um.. chaotic. And I love it.

    • There is something about chaos that’s just perfect in the right scenario.

  4. Aww. You guys are great parents. With great kids. (Speaking of Chewbacca, my kid tried to spell the name the other day: Chooboco. Spelling is fun all of a sudden.)

    • We’re still working on pronunciation . . . “ciderman” is a big hit with CJ at the moment.

  5. We got an artificial tree this year for the first time, and I love the amount of lights. Ryan is happy because I am a light freak and have unwrapped them in previous years (sometimes more than once) if the lights “weren’t right”.

    In previous years I have been able to decorate evenly, pondering over each ornament. This year the kids decided each of them had a “side” and their ornaments are all clustered together on a few branches. I love it.

    • I actually think we’re retiring this tree this year — my hands just can’t take the little needles – those tiny little cuts really, really hurt. Right after the holiday, I think we’ll be looking for a new, artificial tree, pre-lit (with multi-colored lights, of course).

      If you take your “side” to a three-foot sphere, that’s the toddler cluster we have. And I love it.

  6. I remember that as a kid I was always impatient to start decorating the tree. I asked Mom when we were going to do it every morning after Thanksgiving.
    It’s really cool that you allow your kids to play with ornaments and decorate the tree the way they want to. It’s their party. And I believe you that haphazard cluster of ornaments can look perfect.

    • That haphazard cluster of ornaments does look absolutely perfect to me.

      I never wanted to decorate the tree, but always loved it when the tree was decorated. I’m a special kind of lazy 🙂

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