I took a long walk down memory lane last night. It started with my total satisfaction with my decision to use lots of multicolored lights on my little tree. One of those whims that come out of nowhere that seem silly but work well. My small tree is pre-lit with clear lights and it's nice, but lacked something for me this year. It took me awhile to find the string of lights I wanted and I simply wrapped it around and around the tree until I was happy. Pine cones, red berries, snowmen and all those multicolored lights. I'm sure a decorator would tell me I have too many lights for the size of the tree, and I would smile and say...it makes me happy.
I was remembering Christmases of my childhood. All those big heat producing lights that made the bubbles run up to the tips, and the regular lights that you added metal stars to in order to reflect the colors. Grannie had these coach lantern shaped ornaments with little spinners in them and when set with a bulb under them the heat would make the little spinner whirl like crazy.
The ornaments were glass and much more interesting than the ornaments of today. They had shape, color and texture not found in the bags of ornaments one buys today. We always stored them in the boxes they came in and would pray we did a good enough job of storing them so they wouldn't break. It took many of those ornaments to decorate the big trees we used to have in our homes each Christmas.
Dad was a bit anal about how our tree was decorated. My job was to separate the strands of tinsel that had managed to ball up in the old shoebox it was stored in and put it on the tree one strand at a time. Back then tinsel for Christmas trees was made out of a very thin aluminum. A bit like cheap aluminum foil that rips every time you touch it. By the time the tree was up and fully decorated my small hands would be sore from the friction of tree branches on them. Dad insisted each branch of the tree be tinsel adorned beginning at a point closer to the trunk and brought forward strand by single strand. Mom would get mad at him and when he wasn't looking she'd grab what was left and toss it in a ball onto the back part of the tree where he couldn't see it. Then there was always hot chocolate with marshmallow fluff. Real cocoa made from Hersheys with milk and sugar cooked in a pan on the stove.
There was always snow on the ground and in the evenings the week before Christmas, Dad would drive us around the city to the neighborhoods where people decorated their homes with Christmas lights. Mom and Grandma were active in the American Legion auxiliary and we would go caroling at all the nursing homes and at the county hospital on the Sunday before Christmas. We baked cookies, made popcorn balls and drank numerous cups of hot chocolate with marshmallow fluff.
As a child, none of the work involved in Christmas was apparent. As an adult, much of that work and worry tended to take the joy out of the season. At least it did for me these past few years. For some reason, this year I have joy. This year the pine boughs outside my windows are decked with snow, there are multi- colored lights on my tree. I have a smile on my face and a cup of hot chocolate within my grasp. I did skip the marshmallow fluff since I didn't really like it anyways. This year it really is Christmas, it makes me happy.