Saturday, December 23, 2006

Deck (de-deck, re-deck) the halls

This post was written on Dec 18, when my internet was down.

Here at the homestead, we usually aim for tasteful decoration at Christmas. Aside from an annual discussion about appropriate lushness of the Christmas tree, we agree that lots of lights and natural decorations is a good thing. We put out few decorations in the house, but mostly apply lights to the outside pine trees, put candles in all street-facing windows, and apply pine boughs liberally around the house. For the actual Christmas tree, we have a ritual of waiting for snow to fall and trekking 30 mins away to a cut-your-own tree farm Homestead Mama has gone to for years. The owners are always in Florida in December, so we can bring the dogs to ruin their unbroken snow, hike around the property selecting a tree, admire it in its live habitat before cutting it down and dragging it through the snow back to get strapped onto the top of the car. We try to get a tree with a birds nest in it for good luck in the New Year - this trumps perfection of line and fullness. I prefer a sparser tree to showcase select ornaments; Homestead Mama likes a thick tree that you can't see through and prefers to load it with every ornament she ever collected. We agreed to alternate years, so we are each happy. It was that or have 2 trees, and our house isn't big enough for that.

This year, with Pequita taking up every waking minute, I managed to hang a garland of fresh pine in the living room, and set up 2 faux 3' prelit trees flanking the front door in metal urns. Pitiful, even I admit it, but since time is an issue, and all strands of lights are coated in lead that I didn't want to handle while pregnant and handling Pequita, this is as good as it gets chez nous. (We also have a 6' strand of colored lights draped over a window in the living room, but it has nothing to do with Christmas and everything to do with giving the baby something to amuse herself with so we can see her giggle with sheer joy at twinkling color.)

We are traveling to Boston for the holidays, and are counting on my mother, Boston Grandma, to decorate in her usual way so that when we arrive for our short stay we'll have many seasonally themed backdrops against which to drape Pequita for 'first Christmas' photo ops. After a recent phone call, we learned that mom did, indeed, decorate the whole house for the first ever Christmas WITH GRANDBABIES. She has been preparing for this for decades, really. Proper holiday decor involves trading out all the linens on the first floor with red and green themed ones - table runners, doilies, dish towels, and the hand towels in the guest bathrooms (watch out for the sequins, as they scratch if you dry too vigorously). She twines pine garland around banisters, mantels and light fixtures, and digs out all the craft projects we kids made throughout the years, from the wooden & glitter angel, to the walnut shell Christmas mice. There is also a tasteful tree in the living room which cleverly hides the best cat nest of the whole year. The tree is pushed up to the radiator and front window, and a lucky cat can bask on the warmth surrounded by actual LIVE TREE branches while getting a workout batting at the ornaments hanging right at paw level. Rapture. Yesterday I found out that mom had an opportunity to get the first floor painted, which it did need after some unfortunate water damage and plaster repair, and she UNDECORATED the whole place, let the painter do his thing, and then PUT IT ALL BACK UP. This is a woman who clearly cannot wait for her first Christmas with 3 generations. My sister & partner are being forced to leave their lovely nearby home to come sleep under the same roof as the rest of the clan on Christmas Eve, so the glory that is the whole family waking up in one house Christmas morning can be realized. I believe I shall bring mom a screaming Pequita at 4:30 for her feeding to help share the joy. I remember when we kids used to wake up before the sun rose to go see what Santa brought. Roles have now changed, and my parents are up earlier and WE are begging to be allowed to sleep in.

Frankly, I can't wait to get there. Free daycare, the ability to actually knit/cook/shower/sew while someone other than Homestead Mama and I dote on Pequita. Outings to one of the best cities in the world will be had. After 9 weeks, my sister and her partner still haven't met Pequita yet, much to all our dismay, and I am sure that there will be baby trading as we fawn over my 9 month old nephew and they coo over Pequita. I feel pretty blessed all around. Now if only I could drink cup after cup of the homemade eggnog my dad likes to make. Alas, the 3 dozen whipped raw eggs and the gallons of liquor that go into it both kind of cancel that treat out for me this year. Sigh. I hope my mother had time to bake cookies.

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