The Ornamentation of Christmas

The Holiday Season is almost upon us, and although I have the best intentions of sending Christmas cards, I never ever get around to it, in fact I probably wouldn’t have a Christmas tree if I couldn’t order that online. Every mother knows success in life is about those extra twenty minutes in a day, whatever corners you have to cut to get there, most importantly abandoning family traditions. Why send a Christmas card when you have a blog and facebook and twitter!

I have been inspired early to start posting about the holidays by Patience Brewster, an artist and a designer of beautiful Christmas ornaments. Check them out at this page. Ornaments even a derelict mother can appreciate!

http://www.patiencebrewster.com/ornaments.html

Every Christmas my mother very generously gives everyone in the family a Christmas ornament and my uncle has also started bringing ornaments back from his travels. Eva is still young enough that her favorite thing about Christmas is the tree, and well maybe I am now finally old enough that we share the same love: the tree, the lights, the ornaments, the smell as it slowly dies, those pesky needles that get everywhere. There is one level to which I will not stoop- the plastic Christmas tree. That is never happening in my house.

When I finally purchased my first Christmas tree in the dawn of my delayed adulthood I had about five ornaments, mostly hand me downs from my mother. She was really disappointed I had not spent half of my pay cheque “investing” in ornaments, but really she was even more depressed that I didn’t have any children to make them for me. The glitter and glue star that I made out of popsicile sticks is enjoying its thirtieth Christmas this year, on her tree. It was around this time (the dawn of my delayed adulthood) that she started a tradition of her own, we call it: tree inspection.

Fast forward several years to 2014, a marriage and one grandchild later: our Christmas trees-mine and my mother’s- arrive at the same time on the same day aboard the same truck because she – a savvy grandmother- orders hers online too. Hers usually goes up on its stand first, the decorating takes the better half of a week and when she is finally finished with its half seventies, half contemporary chique look, she begins the lengthy process of comparison. Keeping up with the Jones’ we all know is a dangerous game but my mother is like the domestic version of a chess master. After every Christmas Cocktail party, she asks someone in the family,

“What did you think of their tree?”

“It was nice.”

“It was way too puny for that enormous and ostentatious living room.”

“Oh.”

“It would have looked better if the lights twinkled instead of flickered.”

“What’s the difference?”

“There is a huge difference, I might come down with epilepsy from looking at that tree for too long, I had to turn my back.”

“Does your tree twinkle or flicker?”

“Of course it twinkles! Who do you think I am?”

“A Christmas Nazi”

After mom’s Christmas tree has been finished in all its glory she takes to yelling at me as she drives out the driveway,

“You better put that tree in a bucket of water or it will die on your doorstep! “

“Okay mom, Ill make Chris do it tonight.”

A few days later we would get the tree up and she would again drive by.

“I don’t see any lights on that tree.”

“We are planning on decorating the tree this weekend.”

As soon as the lights are up she arrives on the doorstep,

“Here is a gift, it’s a (2014) ornament, why don’t I put it on the tree to get you started with the decoration.”

A few days later if she sees anything hanging off the tree, the star, a Christmas Mickey Mouse, or her ornament, she arrives, dressed head to toe in red and green, with a santa hat, and musical earrings playing “Joy to the World.” She looks the tree up and down, shaking her head.

“You need to put ornaments around the back you know.”

“Why no one is going to see them?”

“But everyone will be able to tell by the way the tree leans.”

“No one will know.”

“You never brush the back of your hair either and it’s a rats nest!”

“Mom!”

“You need to put more ornaments lower down and higher up.”

If I didn’t distract her she would start rearranging the ornaments.

“Don’t you have any more?”

“No.”

I think she thinks of a Christmas tree as some sort of emblem of how well you are doing in life, how creative, how affluent, how organized, how family orientated and how much you care about Christmas, and lets not leave out Jesus Christ. He should be at the top of every Christmas tree.

“Where is the nativity?”

“We don’t have one.”

“You have to have a nativity!”

“No we don’t.”

“You have to have a nativity now that you have a child.”

“I am a heathen, remember.”

“Your husband was an altar boy and its your duty as a mother not to spoil Eva’s religious soul.”

I had no answer for that so she bought a Fisher Price nativity on amazon to be kept at Hamma and Gigi’s house. Of course Eva loved it, and has not stopped talking about Baby Jesus and Gigi’s perfect Christmas tree ever since.

Personally I would like a tree that leans a little to the side, a tree with character. I am really suspicious of people whose trees look like they shoplifted one from the department store, or stayed up for seven consecutive nights decorating it. Why?

My mother would disagree. She has been known to try and return her Christmas trees for not having the perfectly shaped form. Maybe she should think about a plastic tree? Personally I embrace the imperfection of nature, and imperfection in all its forms.

“You need tinsel on that tree.”

“We all need tinsel, mom.”

Perhaps this year, I will purchase a few new ornaments for my tree from Patience, if only to please my mother. Eva, because she is only two years old, gets off easy she can make me something with glitter, glue and popsicle sticks- the messier the better as long as she makes it with love and dereliction. As my husband says,

“Eva takes after you, arts and crafts are not her forte.”

Xx Derelict Mom

 

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