Image courtesy of Free Photo.
Well, it’s that time of year again. The time when families come together to celebrate the holidays and strengthen family ties by participating in cherished, long-standing family rituals. And if I were going to sum up the essence evoked by my own family’s holiday rituals in one word, that word would definitely have to be…”speed”. Here’s what I mean.
Take, for example, the cherished tradition of the Christmas tree. Sure, there are many people who go out immediately after Thanksgiving, comparison shop to find The Perfect Tree, lovingly position it in the best spot in the house, and then create beautiful holiday memories of decorating the tree filled with homemade foods, holiday music, warmth, and laughter. Not us.
We prefer the thrill of the hunt. When Christmas trees are readily available at every home improvement store, grocery store, drug store, and church parking lot, well then we’re just not interested. Where is the challenge in that? But you just try and find a viable tree on Christmas Eve afternoon; that’ll get your adrenaline pumping.
Then of course there’s the Christmas shopping, and I can think of no better example to illustrate this than that of my brother. Every year he rolls into town about two days before Christmas. Up until this point he has completed exactly 0% of his Christmas preparations. But is he worried? Absolutely not. Because we are speedy.
He just grabs my mom and any other random family members who happen to be milling around at that moment and off they go. His personal goal is to go to one store, purchase presents for the 9 family members with whom we celebrate Christmas, and complete all of his shopping and wrapping (thank goodness for charities who raise money by wrapping gifts for crazed shoppers like us) in less time than it took him the year before. And somehow he always does.
(I decided to go along on the shopping trip last year, and because this is my blog I feel that I can TOTALLY take credit for the fact that last year, he beat his record by 50%. It now stands at under 30 minutes.)
Finally it is time for us to decorate the tree that we have so lovingly chosen speedily salvaged from the Christmas tree lot guy as he was closing down his business for the year. And here’s where the real fun begins, because in our house there are no rules. This stems from my mom’s childhood experiences of having a parent who forced her and her siblings to hang the tinsel on the tree strand by tiny, slippery, individual strand. (Even writing that sentence makes my head hurt in the place where my migraines start.)
So now that she is a grownup and can have her own Christmas tree, she has declared that anything goes. Anyone can put anything they want on her tree. If you can find a way to get it onto an ornament hook, it’s going up on the tree. This results in a unique, eclectic decorating style that I like to refer to as “Visual Anarchy As Staged On A Christmas Tree”.
I remember one year in particular where, in addition to the ornaments, our tree featured construction paper garlands made by my brother in elementary school, red, gold, and white tinsel garlands, at least 2 packages of individual tinsel strands, one tree’s worth of multicolored strands of lights that shone constantly, and one tree’s worth of blinking white strands of light hooked up to a variable-speed remote control. It was AWESOME! (Unless you are someone who prefers things like balance and visual harmony over absolute personal freedom. Then you probably wouldn’t like it very much. When I asked my engineer husband what he thought when he first experienced one of our Christmas trees he described it this way: “I felt the part of my head between my eyes and the rest of my brain shut down so I didn’t have to process what I was seeing.”)
So clearly our methods of celebration are not for everyone. But they work well for us. And so, on the eve (almost) of the 2005 holidays, I wish you a holiday that works well for you, or at the very least, a funny story to share afterwards.
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