Christmas Tale…

December 22, 2007 at 3:31 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Part I:

At our house, the decorating of the Christmas tree went through several phases.  The years we had real trees they were often blue spruce.  When I was very small, the tree was in the front room, the compleat Seventies ensemble…(Olive carpet, heavy olive draperies, Hanging gold lamp from the ceiling with olive green crushed velvet couch…a section of olive green paneling that hid the original fireplace…(“Mom, why are you blocking off the fireplace?  How will Santa get in?”

“We’ll hang your stocking right on the front doorknob honey, so Santa will understand that he has to use the front door.”


Once I hit ten, the tree moved to the back room…The whole back wall full of windows would reflect back the lights, but the back ‘family room’  was not color coordinated per se, except in a vague several-blues-and a black recliner sort of way

My mother, the director of the tree decorating process would first cast her eye on ways to make even the oddest shaped tree appear to be the coveted proportional triangle.  The stand we had had screws to put to the trunk to angle it whatever way the viewer chose…

When that was accomplished, the next piece happened without my help…due to safety concerns, and the lightstrings being, let’s just say well used, she did the light stringing herself.  During this, critical adjustments were made to make sure the colors balanced appropriately throughout the tree….

Once I hit between eight and ten years old, I was able to help with the next parts, garland and ornaments…and the director gave me more and more freedom as to where to hang what…

I did struggle with icicle hanging some years, but my mother became resigned to either leaving those off or hanging them herself when the fine motor skills required to hang  single strants at a time proved to be beyond my cerebral palsy….

But when she deemed it complete…she asked for at least twenty minutes where no one else would distract her from simply admiring her handiwork.

Part II:

During the specific holiday season of December 1978, I had just turned 17.

My best female friend at the time and the boy both she and I were in love with (High School Drama…sigh.) were expected to pick me up and head to the movies that night..with his best friend The Kid Who Moved to California, and The Kid’s girlfriend The Future Nurse.

The two last did not know my mother….

When their car arrived, I was in the front room waiting…and, as manners dictated, invited the foursome in for a moment…

The completed, perfected tree was lit and waiting…and should have generated the appropriate ooohs and ahhs ….because there is no denying that my mom’s Christmas Trees were things of beauty.

But there was something else more eye catching in the room.

Remember I’m a 17 year old teenage girl…

I wanted to die of embarrasment immediately.

“Um…(names of new friends),  “This…is….my………mother…”

Upon hearing us arrive, my mom, who was standing on her head admiring the tree, (Yes, you read that right, “standing-on-her-head-admiring-the-tree”)  stopped looking at the tree, rolled a bit, folded her perfect figure into a sitting position, and stood up to greet my guests…

They didn’t quite know what to say, but murmured polite pleasantries were exchanged, and then as soon as was seemly I fled to the safety of the Kid’s car.

On the way to the movies, the Kid Who Moved to California asked…”Um is your Mom *always* like that? I mean, does she stand on her head often?”




  1. bridgett said,

    It’s good to remember the happy stuff. I remember making beautiful vanilla-scented pancakes in your kitchen, hung over to death. I also know that on one morning (maybe after a New Year’s party?), you were the one who clued me that one needed to put the lid on the omelette pan in order to get the omelettes to puff — I’m guessing you got that from her or maybe your aunt. I loved the layout of that house. It was so ideally early 60s ranch (as opposed to ours, which looked like sometimes in the 1930s, a weekend drunk had decided to build on to his one-room weekend house when he was on a toot…) I loved the mail chute in the living room. I loved the cute futzy formal living room out front. I loved all the windows. I loved Baby the Stereo and the little switches that went up and down — next to my own first stereo, I think I have the most affection for yours. How many great conversations happened by the light of that front panel?

    Shoot. I miss you. Looking forward to having you visit soon.

  2. imfunny2 said,

    This spring, or this summer…the time has been blocked off… Long about March or April, I’ll pester you with an email and you can tell me a good three day or four day weekend during May-Augustthat isnt a history conference or the shore….

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