Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Decorations of Nostalgia

It's that time again.  The turkey is safely secured in my stomach, pecan pie devoured and the kids have washed away the evidence.  That was a rule I made long ago.  The ladies had slaved over the Thanksgiving feast for hours and it was only right for the men to do clean up duty, and by men I mean the children, of course.  But all that is done and naps have been had.  It's now time for the storage tubs to be brought out and the Christmas decorations scattered around.  When I say tubs I am referring to all ten of the five feet long, two feet deep and two feet wide containers crammed full of Santa Clauses and snowmen.  It's my favorite time of year and our family goes all out.

I can't help it.  The lights, the bright colors and glistening decorations, a person can't help but feel the rush of excitement that comes with the holiday season.  Of course, it could also be attributed to the spiked eggnog, but that's our little secret.

The girls usually make me wait until the Thanksgiving holiday is over before I'm allowed to ransack the garage and pull out the abundance of lights and cheesy decorations.  I'd start in July otherwise with the rationalization that the winter decorations would make them forget it was 102 degrees in the shade.  I figure churches use Christmas in July as a theme to make you give money so I was only expounding on that premise.  And I didn't want any money!

I do wait until Thanksgiving Day, however, even though I disagree.  To me, Thanksgiving and Christmas are a combined holiday; they blend into each other with perfect symmetry.  You think of family, snowy fields and crackling fires.  Of course, I live in Florida so I only get the family portion because crackling fires usually mean someone tossed a lit cigarette and now some developer just saved tons of money on clearing land, but you know what I'm talking about I'm sure.  That same cozy feeling is wrapped around us for two months and so I think the decorations should blend.  The girls don't and they usually win because, well, they’re in charge of the meals.

However, when I do get to pull out those magical tubs, it's always like going back in time.  There are ornaments and decorations that each of the kids have made with glue, string and colored paper as they grew through the years.  There's a wall hanging Nathan created out of gold painted macaroni elbows of the three wise men.  It was the best representation of the trio I had seen by a seven year old and hung on our walls at Christmastime for years until the glue stopped holding it together on that bed of green felt.  Flakes of gold littered the floor as well as the dog's teeth.

Then there are the vast collections.  Char collects Santa Clauses and Teri loves snowmen.  So, every year I buy them one each and as I pull them out I'm reminded of the years we've all been together.  Then there are the small little Mickey Mouse globes we've collected from J.C. Penny’s on Black Friday every year for the past nine years as well as several singing snowmen from Hallmark to decorate the piano that no one plays.  Every nook and cranny of the house is stuffed with something that shouts Christmas.  There are even snowflakes on the toilet tank!

And there's more.  A faded red metal Christmas ball hangs on the tree every year, the only touch I have with a grandmother I never knew.  Then there's that bluish-gray clay tear drop bulb with my name on it that I made in elementary school.  It has a slight crack from where one of the boys dropped it but it connects my youth to the youth of my children every year that it gets hung on the tree.  There are also crocheted stockings that my aunt made one year and some my mom made that hold pictures of the boys as tots. The ornaments will be unpacked and placed haphazardly on our Present Tree and each one will hold a memory and a few will bring a tear.  They represent family that's passed on and some that have simply moved on; friends new and old.  They hold a historic record of the Cox Christmas heritage and can tell stories of years gone by.  I remember as a child putting ornaments on our tree and my mom crying as she unpacked a broken one that belonged to her mother.  It was as if another string holding the past to us had been snipped.

Every time I pull out the decorations, I get the same feeling one gets when browsing old photo albums.  It's a way to remember.  The white on that plastic Santa may be yellowed but the memory is still bright as ever of the grandparent who bought it.  It's Time's way of making us reflect on where we've been so that we will appreciate where we are and enjoy where we're going.  Don't rush decorating that tree.  Savor every tear of nostalgia that wants to well up in your eyes as the smile of memories takes you sweetly back to visit old family and friends.

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