Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.
Frost whitens green grass;
freezing ice rises above
the surface level.
I don’t know about you but getting my Christmas tree all together is quite the process. Each year when I put stuff away I think I make it easier for next year. Then next year rolls around and it’s still a process. I’m not going to call it a pain because if it were it wouldn’t be worth putting one up it. I’m still taking joy in the process. Last year I didn’t put up a tree; it was too soon after losing Mom and I knew I wouldn’t get much help from my guys. I missed the lights and the smell of the tree. The guys did too.
I decided to start early this year because Thanksgiving came so late. All the work of putting the tree up for just a few days is not my style. I like the cheery lights to chase away the gloom of early winter nights. I’m especially fond of a crispy dry tree come New Year’s Day when the whole thing comes down again. I brought my tree home yesterday through sun, rain, wind, snow, and hail. No, I didn’t cut my own, I bought from a local lot (I support Boy Scouts); it was a wild weather day.
The funny thing is my tree looks just about the same every year. I have a smallish house so I get a smallish tree. I have the same tree stand and the same tree skirt and the same gold balls and the same bead garlands and the same tacky plastic angel my paternal grandmother made topping the whole thing. Then there’s the collections of treasured ornaments. A few antique colored glass from Mom. Some hand made from nieces and nephews. The precious ones the son made in early grade school. Special collectibles from my mother-in-law. Very little elegance, very much home-spun. Some years the lights are more creative than others. I like lots of lights.
I could change the colors or the theme and the way the tree looks. I have tons of old ornaments inherited over the years, boxes and boxes, the surviving paper boxes sometimes worth more than the ornaments. I could go white, silver, and blue. I could do just reindeer, or stuffed toys, or snowmen. I could do the entire tree with antique wire ornaments. I don’t. I mix it up a bit and always enjoy putting on the new ornament from last year. I think my tree looks joyful and cheery.
No matter what effort I make to make it easier the next year, Christmas boxes and stuff never get put away in the same place or the same order. This year, for example, I find the tree stand stashed under the dryer vent in the back yard. It’s been there two years, remember, because last year I did not have a tree. It’s full of dryer lint and in need of a complete wash and dry. It will not be stored there again.
I label my Christmas boxes and check each year to make sure the right label is in the right box. So how is it the boxes I don’t want to use are always on top of the boxes I want to use? I must have Christmas elves. Or naughty gremlins.
Some of the older boxes have antique ornaments I probably should sell or give to the family. I have a whole box full of Christmas city scene items; I don’t have a flat surface to display them on. I suspect two of my nieces collect these pretties, but the box is down below so many others, in the cold dim light of searching the storage shed it goes by the wayside for another year.
A plastic bag on the floor before the tree gets set down acts sort of like a water barrier. No matter how hard I try water gets spilled or leaks. I like the tree to be inside a while and dry off a bit before I put the lights on. So it sits there and throws its fragrance around the room getting itself accustomed to the dry indoor air. It always looks so much bigger when it’s inside, and each year I try to buy a small tree.
When the tree’s dry the lights go on. I set up the lights on a remote control so I can sit anywhere in the living room and click the clicker et voilà! Lights! I like all colors, bright, happy, cheery colored lights. This means unwrapping last year’s carefully wrapped bundles of lights which have somehow over the course of the year in storage become wire and glass rat’s nests. Gremlins nesting in them? First test the lights to see if any of them still work. How do brand new lights die from one year to the next while languishing in the storage shed? Unwrap the ones that work. Set the ones that don’t work back in the light bag in case you might have time to see why they don’t work. (What year?) For best effect I put the lights up at night so I can see how it’s going to look. The son helps after I tell him there will be no presents under the tree. You’d think he’d be savvy to that one after all these years. Or maybe that’s his cue I’ve reached my limit of smart talk. My guys like the tree but they don’t like helping, because helping means the things I cannot do; I know what I want done so helping usually comes in the form of “do this, do that.” Don’t ask why, just do it. Neither one of them would ever survive in the military, but then neither would I.
There never seems to be enough lights. I want more, more, more. Limited by outlet availability, each year I invest in a power strip that disappears, integrated into the household after the Christmas clean-up. I want to think we aren’t big users but we are an all electric household.
Lights on. Tree gets moved to its “final position”. Water is poured into the tree stand and we are ready to decorate. Hwell. I am.
After the break. Between the son asking why instead of doing as he’s told, (he’s 22!!!) and the housework that’s not been done the house is a wreck and so am I. I take a break and check to make sure I have the boxes of ornaments I want. If all the boxes are in order I can put the ornaments on at my leisure in my jammies. I might wait until the son is done with his video game. I may even wait until morning. No hurry now it’s in and lit. I don’t need help with the rest.
The quilted lace edged tree skirt Mom made me years ago covers the tree stand now the tree is in final position. Red and gold bead garlands come next and then gold balls. Finally the treasured ornaments and my preciouses. The step stool lets me put the grammy-made angle topper on by myself. The angel is always last to bless the tree. She is forever tatty and beautiful.
Sometimes the tree is a two day process. As I write it’s not quite decorated, so I still have the finished project to look forward to. When it’s done each night until the New Year I have the joy of fir scented air and lights at the click of a switch. It will glow over my cooking and cleaning and writing desk. I revel in history and memories of Christmases past bathed in the glow of hundreds of tiny colorful lights and shiny reflecting globes.
Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – wind blown leaves dot the grass, random brown and yellow polka dots on a green background; the backs of brown leaves are a lovely beige; tiny brown striped fungi blooming in between yellow and red-brown leaves; interesting crystal white ice structure rising out of a bucket reflecting the blue sky, reminds me of a bird pointing its beak to the sky, a blue and white ice bird.
Currently Reading – The Lunar Tao: Meditations With the Seasons (2013, Chinese religion) by Ming-Dao Deng; Energy Medicine: Balancing Your Body’s Energies for Health, Joy, and Happiness (2008, alternative medicine) by Donna Eden; Mr Strangelove: A Biography of Peter Sellers (2002, biography) by Ed Sikov. Yes, concurrently.
This week I have been grateful for:
- A quiet Thanksgiving. Having enough of our small meal to share with a single neighbor man whose relatives live in Montana.
- Boy Scouts.
- Light. Lights. Electricity.
- Wild weather.
- Cool air on my skin.
- 1940s movies.
- Baked apples and pears made with no sugar, a little butter, and a touch of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
- Watching the wind move the tree branches outside my kitchen window.
- Walking, swimming, motion.
- Getting some rest this week.
- Hot tea and popsicles.
Hoping you have a lovely week.
Namaste. Peace. Blessings.
Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch