Tuesday, December 28, 2004

A Serious Question...

OK, I have to ask...is it possible to have too many Christmas ornaments? I know that my sisters would instantly scream, "No!" but looking at my tree tonight the thought did occur to me. The thing almost looks like it was dipped in glue and rolled in ornaments, and I have to admit that I did have trouble getting all of the decorations situated on the branches.

At least I come by this honestly, care of my mother. When I was a kid, every year we would all join in decorating the tree. Carefully unwrapping each ornament from miles of toilet paper and stealthily repositioning favorite ornaments that someone else had foolishly hung in the wrong spot. Sometimes this happened to the same ornament two or three times.

There's something about Christmas ornaments that carry powerful memories, so poignant and sweet that just holding one in your hand can instantly transport you back to when you were 8 or 10 years old. My collection has been added to slowly over the years as I search for the exact decorations that I grew up with. Thanks to estate sales, thrift stores and ebay, I've partially succeeded. My tree sports, for instance, two oddly shaped ornaments that look just like the ones we used to call "Ramblers" as children. Not until years later did I think to wonder why we named these particular decorations such an odd name--it is because they were the same pale metallic blue as my Dad's Rambler American, a faithful but boxy little car. My ornaments even have the same stripes as the ones from my childhood, and I call mine "Ramblers" as well. Note to self: Explain this line of descent to my daughter, so she won't suddenly wonder in her later years why the Hell she's calling those damned things "Ramblers". Another fav is a plain red ball from the 50's with a white snowy church scene and the words, 'Silent Night' painted on the side. Nearby are the colorful glass clip-on birds with the fiberglass tails, the fabulous indented teardrop ornaments, the red, silver and blue glass bells, the oversized glass balls with the elaborate, glittered scenes painted all around them and the four color glass church with glittered 'snow' on it's roof.

To these nods to childhood I've added my own special pieces: the ornate set of red, gold and silver plastic teardrops that were attached to the top of the first Christmas gift from my husband, the 24 long, sliver-like glass icicles that are ALWAYS a royal pain to retrieve off of the tree each year, the three small handpainted china bells from an estate sale of a couple named Ken and Shirley who lived down the street from me, the two beautiful tiny glass chickens from my sister, the wooden cat ornament from my sister--it waves it's arms and legs wildly when you pull on it's string--, the delicate snowflake sequin ball from Eva, the cinnamon-apple dough ornaments my 5 year old and I made last year, the three ultra-tiny wooden ornaments that barely cling to the very tippy-top of the tree each year and somehow over the last 20 years have miraculously never gotten lost, the gigantic silver ball that I refer to as 'The Queen Mother'--always the last to be hung, with a large red glittered set of poinsettias on one side and an ornate old-world 'Merry Christmas' in blue glitter on the other. And new this year--a replica ornament of the fabulous 'leg lamp' from the movie 'A Christmas Story', a gift from my husband.

The decorations mentioned here barely scratch the surface, of course. This year and last, it took me three days to finish decorating the tree. Last year I put it down to being ill and moving slow, and to some extent the same was true this year thanks to a sinus/ear infection. But the truth is that decorating the tree is something I really love to do, and taking the time to unwrap each ornament and getting that childhood zing and a smile just by seeing it again and holding it in my hands just can't be beat. The tree will stay up until New Year's Day for my OTHER personal tradition, rising early in the quiet while everyone else sleeps, removing the ornaments and packing them away while watching the Rose Parade. So what if I end up watching the Rose Parade a few times because it takes so damned long to unload the tree, right? Which brings me back to the original question: Is it possible to have too many Christmas ornaments?

Ah, um...never mind--I see a bare spot on the tree. There's room for more. Come to think of it, I'm still searching the the heavy plastic filligree bells and the handpainted pale blue ball with the glittering white snowman on it from my childhood.

Forget I said anything.

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