Saturday, December 8, 2007

Decking the Halls

When I was growing up, we never had any evidence that the holidays were upon us, other than the very fake Christmas tree in the family room, and the stockings on the mantle. When I was a little older, my father did an adorable Christmas needlepoint (really – he’s quite masculine, but he is definitely a man of many talents!) and a macramé Santa that hung on the front door. Ok, and maybe we had a Christmas cactus – but that was it.

Then I met my husband and from the first year we were together (14 years ago!) we would celebrate Christmas Eve with my dad’s family and then travel 8 hours to Long Island to celebrate Christmas day with my husband's family. It was crazy, but it was always so much fun and it was great to get to see everyone each year. Anyway, that first year that I walked into my husband’s childhood home, I was blown away by the decorations! My in-laws outdid themselves with a huge real tree, real evergreen garlands, bows, wreaths, holiday nutcrackers, the Dickens Village (which was the length of the den!), Christmas throws, Christmas candles, Christmas towels, Christmas soaps – you name it, it was decorated! It was SO festive, and so amazing, and SO different from what I was used to, it really boosted my holiday spirits!

Right from that first year, my then-future mother-in-law would give me cute holiday decorations as gifts, and of course I always appreciated them, but I have to admit I rarely ever put those things out. In our apartment, we had a tree, maybe a wreath, and some candles. Specifically, I couldn’t see myself changing out the hand soap container to put out the cute snowman soap container that Mom had given me. I always saved everything (hoarding is definitely in my genetic make-up…), but it was all in boxes in the basement.

And then I had my first daughter. I started pulling out the decorations that Mom had given me, and I put those out. And then I would see something cute at the store and I would add to my collection. And then I would see things that were on sale at the end of the season, and I would get them for the next year. Or I would be participating in a Yankee Swap game at work or at Garden Club, and instead of going for the gift card or the scratch off tickets, I would go for the cute Santa that is hanging from the wooden candy cane… And now, we are putting up our holiday decorations this week, and I am looking around at the TWO Christmas trees that we have up – one in the family room, one by the fireplace in the dining room – and I have the Christmas throw pillows out, and the Christmas hand towel hanging on the stove, and the holiday hand towels in the bathroom, and I am devastated, because I can’t find the snowman hand soap dispenser!!

My girl also gets excited about decorating for the holidays. We have made it a holiday tradition in our house, to put up the decorations together. The Christmas music goes on (actually, this year my daughter picked the Harry Potter cd...) or sometimes we put on one of our favorite holiday specials -- Rudolph, Year Without a Santa (we love Heat Miser!), Frosty the Snowman. We serve egg nog with cinnamon (my girl's favorite), and we "deck the halls!" For most of our years together, my husband and I, and then our oldest daughter, would go out and get a real tree or even two real trees. The past couple of years we have used artificial because oddly, it turns out I am allergic to Christmas trees! Anyway, we have two artificial trees that stand up pretty well to real (not like the one from my childhood -- no offense to my parents!), and this year my girl was a huge help in putting the trees up! They have color-coded tips and she took great pride in almost completely putting one of the trees together on her own! And our littlest girlie got in on the act too -- carrying branches over to Daddy to put in the tree. She was so speedy, he couldn't keep up!

It's fun to get the kids involved in the decorating -- it helps direct their excitement over Santa coming, but it also gives them nice memories to cherish. My daughter loves to look at the ornaments and reminisce about where we got them. This week I surprised her with a special ornament that I got during our first family trip to Disney World. I really appreciate all of the holiday traditions and those special holiday decorations that my mother-in-law has given me over the years, and now my girls are growing up to appreciate the preparation for the holidays almost as much as Santa's visit!


Christine said...

Didn't your dad also crochet your stockings?

I was thinking of that Garden Club snow man that you got as soon as I started reading this.

I still like the Starbucks cards better ;-)

Your house always looks lovely for the holidays.

Deanna said...

Yes, he did! Well, he and my mom. Actually, I was planning to do a post about our stockings sometime before the holiday.

Yes, poor Paulette, I think I scared her that year! That's how we play at work and I loved that Santa -- it's the one I mentioned in this post!

Christine said...

Oh it was a Santa. I couldn't remember. All I remember was that you were cutthroat about it!!!! ;-)