Name a sensory input(s) which trigger a mood change be it uplifting, depressing, poignancy or remind you of a past event or period in time.
For me that would have to be the smell of pine-every time I smell that it catapults me directly to Christmas, and the special holiday traditions that my family has built up over the years.
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 multi-colored 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.”)
Do we know how to do the holidays right or what?!
Read more responses here.
I can never buy those Pine-sol and other Pine smelling air fresheners … they always remind me of Christmas and then I get all excited, just to be let down since Christmas is still ages away.
that sounds like a very individual and unique Christmas tree 🙂 I think it’s way nicer to do the things like you want to do them then doing them like they are ‘supposed to’. Who cares if the colors don’t match, or whether you mix old and new things?
A friend of mine wanted to trow away a cupboard because it didn’t match the rest of the interior. I was in shock! (I ‘saved’ the cupboard of course)
Everything in my house is a mix between modern Ikea stuff and furnature and accesories I found at second hand stores. Maybe it doesn’t match, but to me it looks great, and that’s what counts.
Maria & Stefano says
This post is so cute!!!
Your Christmas Tree sounds great…so full of love…
We don’t have thanksgiving – but I’ve noticed Christmas trees getting in the shops earlier and earlier….
For a moment there, I thought you were going to tell us you chopped down your own tree, lugged it home and trimmed it yourselves 🙂
Does anyone do that anymore, I wonder?
My fodder is up!
Mary (Mert) says
I wold love to see a picture of that! My mother (like your mom’s mom) was kind of anal about the tree too. I try not to be that way, though I do take a few off after my girls have hung about 10 on the same branch.
Sounds like you guys have a ball with Christmas. That’s what it’s for!
Teena in Toronto says
I love the smell of pine trees! I’m not a Christmas person and don’t do a tree, etc. My place is too small and I have kitties who would demolish a treet 🙂
Mine’s up too.
Teena in Toronto says
That should be TREE not TREET.
If I wasn’t such a worrier and planner then I too could take great delight in the speedy approach to Christmas shopping.
I could leave it until then; however my problem is not that it’s late in the day to sort it, it’s all the other people who get in the way when you try to do it!
Great response – I really enjoyed reading it.