So much pithiness in the house at the moment!
- Our Thanksgiving was lovely. We both feel very fortunate that our families get along so well with each other and Jeremy’s parents are “the more, the merrier,” table-open-to-anybody-who-needs-it type. My parents spent Thanksgiving again this year with Jeremy’s family, allowing us to spend more holiday time with both of our parents without spending so much driving to and fro. It was a relaxed, thoroughly enjoyable day. The only slight disappointment was that Jeremy’s grandmother, Nan Flo, was a bit off of her game. She can generally be counted on to say a thing or three on any given day that sometimes curls your hair but is always good for a belly laugh. She gets most of her information from her gossip “magazines,” and so the her comments often border on the absurd. Oh, who am I kidding. They drive off the cliff and cross the border like Thelma and Louise. They come to her like a bolt of lightning, complete non sequiturs, and she has a filter like a sieve. “They said Hillary Clinton is a lesbian!? She can’t be a lesbian! I saw a picture of her in a bathing suit!” Flo has an enormous, booming voice, and she speaks to be heard for miles around. She doesn’t just talk, she MAKES PROCLAMATIONS. And oh, what proclamations they are! Alas, this Thanksgiving went off without a Flo proclamation. Nary a mention of Hillary, Kate Gosselin, the British Royal Family… If I hadn’t known with certainty that Jeremy’s mom, Sherry, would have smacked me, I would have baited Flo with a not-so-innocent “Did you hear that Prince William is having an affair with Miley Cyrus?” That’s all it would have taken. Instead, we had a Thanksgiving free of Flo-isms. Nonetheless, it was wonderful. Thank you, Sherry and Ed, for opening your hearts and your home.
- All of the fall decorations are stowed in their tubs in the basement, and the decking of the halls is well underway. I don’t know about your house, but when we decorate, there is a period of time – sometimes a couple of days – when the house looks like Christmas threw up boxes, bins, and tubs all over it. Yes, I may have a problem with Christmas stuff. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’m beginning to realize that less is more, but all of that self-control is quickly lost when we approach the mountain of Christmas accumulation in the basement. Poor Jeremy, he tries, throwing side-eye teacher looks my way, and he has made some inroads into my slight (?) Christmas hoarder condition, but it’s a rough road. It’s not that I like the clutter. It’s just that I really enjoy each piece of Christmas kitsch we’ve amassed. So he carefully tries to edit me as I look for a bare surface for this tchotchke or that ornament. He claims that we have 7 trees on the first floor, but we really only have 3, as it should be obvious that anything under 4 feet is merely a decoration and not a true tree. We will continue to dance this tango today, and hope to be finished decorating by tomorrow, when we go back to work. Luckily, his absence today (he has an all-day tech rehearsal for his play next weekend,) should provide me with the cover to rescue any critical decorations that he edited from their purgatory in the basement. Maybe he won’t notice.
- If Jeremy doesn’t notice, it will be because the house is a smorgasbord of decorations from conflicting eras. As I said, we have 3 threes (not 7,) between the living and dining rooms. One traditional 9 foot tree, with white lights and decorated with a mix of antique and new “old” figural ornaments. Across the room on a table is a 4 foot silver aluminum tree, decorated with vintage ornaments from the 50s and 60s. In the dining room is a 6 foot green and silver aluminum tree (I KNOW!), also decorated with old Shiny Brite ornaments of the era. All three are beautiful in their own way, but I’m fairly sure a designer (or a normal person,) would find them to be more than a little much. It doesn’t stop there, of course. There is the full size leg lamp from A Christmas Story, the hand-made Santas beside their retro-sixties plastic cousins, the Bubble Lights on one of the smaller decoration trees, the traditional garland across the arch between the living and dining rooms, juxtaposed with the 60s Japanese music box that plays Silent Night while it turns and drops Styrofoam snow on the green aluminum tree and plastic-face elf inside. (Yes, it is as fabulous as it sounds!) And then there is Vulvina Snatchette, who is in a category all her own. (She clearly warrants a post of her own, as she tends to steal the spotlight, and she will require an accompanying photo to do her justice. Se has yet to emerge from the basement, but when she does, she will make a grand entrance and an appearance here!) Anyway, we decorate the way we do because we (I?) love this crap and it makes us smile. We’ll never make the pages of a magazine, and our friends and family are way too polite (and love us, quirks and all,) to tell us what they really think, so, for us, at this time of year, more will remain more.
- Last night we joined our friends the Baileys at our small town’s Christmas Tree Lighting. (It was a little odd because the tree had been lit a few nights ago, but we all pretended it was the first we had seen it.) What is it about small town ceremonies like this that makes them so amazing and hysterical at the same time? A group of maybe 200 people gathered in our town’s version of a square, which is actually a rectangle, complete with Civil War cannons, memorials, a proud flagpole, and the tree. There was free coffee and hot chocolate, and treats handed out by the Boy Scouts. A young pastor opened the ceremony with a few words, and a child was asked why we celebrate. (Into the microphone) “We celebrate Christmas because…(long pause)…uhhhhhh…(long pause)…uhhhhh (internal child dialogue…”Oh crap, what is the answer again…somebody please take this microphone…everybody is staring at me…I’m going to throw up…wait, I think I remember) We celebrate Christmas because it’s the day Jesus was born?” There was an almost audible sigh of relief as our collective discomfort broke. We counted down from 5, I guess because counting down from 10 would have taken too long, or maybe the child’s answer ate up too much time, and the tree was lit to applause and cheers. An older gentleman then took the microphone to lead the crowd in carols. I felt a bit of pressure to sing along. (“I expect EVERYBODY to participate, ” he said, and it didn’t sound like a gentle request. I was half expecting the participation police to start moving through the crowd.) Fortunately, the leader was singing into a microphone in a not-bad voice, a bit Burl Ives-ish, and with the volume from the speakers, it was pretty hard to tell if anybody was actually singing along. He tried the “I’ll stop singing so I can hear who is singing along” tactic, which proved that he was, in fact, basically singing a solo, so he gave up and started singing again, with a bit more cajoling between each number. Santa arrived by fire truck a few minutes later and worked the preteen crowd. We visited with our friends the Feltenbergers, who live on the rectangular square, and whose rooftop illuminated Santa was blatantly used by the man with the microphone without so much as a nod to Hank, who once again this year risked life and limb to get that guy anchored to their chimney, 3 stories up! It was all over in under an hour, and we walked the block back to our home, happy for the laughs and the chance to experience and enjoy this small town tradition in all of its wacky wonder.
My pithiness posts sometimes lack a common thread, but I guess as I look back at this one, it does. As we slide full speed into the heart of the holiday season, I hope you find time to indulge your quirks. Embrace your weirdness. Fly your freak flag proudly. This season, be yourself in all of your glory. In honor of Vulvina, throw caution and, yes, even good taste to the wind. Sing along, or not. Make PROCLAMATIONS. Go gaudy or simple, whichever makes you happy, and spread your joy for all to share!