Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Cheer

I grew up Jewish and it wasn't until I was in my late teens, when my mom remarried, that we had a Christmas tree. And even then, it wasn't MY Christmas tree. It was really for my Catholic step-sister. All the ornaments were hers and the tree was decorated to her liking. Still, it was a tree, so I was happy. I loved coming downstairs and being hit by the smell of pine and smoke (from the fireplace in the family room).

I've always had a longing to celebrate Christmas, even as a child. One year I went outside and decorated a Japanese Maple tree in our yard with foil. My mother was really angry and made me take it all down. I guess she thought Christmas was about being Christian and Jesus and stuff (or she didn't like that I was wasting foil-- who really knows). It can be a religious holiday, but I don't think it's that way for most people. For me, Christmas is about having some brightness and cheer during the cold, long, dark winter.

Of course, a lot of this Christmas thing probably stems from my obsession with having an absolutely idyllic home life. I'm willing to accept chaos and bullshit outside in the real world, but when I come home I want things to be beautiful, warm, and inviting. Christmas is all about having a warm, cozy, and inviting home, and I am all about the same. I'm happiest when the house is spotless, there's the smell of food cooking in the kitchen and I'm sitting in the living room, wrapped in a fleece blanket and reading the New Yorker or Bon Appetit. I have lots of theories as to why I'm like this, but this is a blog, not a therapy session.

I remember my first Christmas tree. We were living in the absolute crappiest apartment in Newark, Delaware. We were still in college. I guess I was 20 and Steph was 21. The apartment had a flea problem and the giant fire you could see burning in the oil furnace scared the crap out of me. We bought a Christmas tree that was way too big for the place and a ton of cheap, gaudy ornaments. On Christmas day we opened presents and wore santa hats. It was kind of perfect in that romantic, poor college student sort of way.

We haven't had a real tree since the cats came into our lives. I'm afraid they'll climb it and all hell will break loose. This year we're experimenting with artificial trees and it seems to be going well. We have a small white feather tree, a white artificial tree filled with owl ornaments, and a tinsel tabletop tree with vintage mercury ball ornaments. Also, we have indoor lights, outdoor lights, my collection of ceramic lighted trees, boxwood garlands outside, two outdoor wreaths and a door swag. We may have gone a little overboard this year with the decorating. One of the great joys of being an adult is the opportunity to celebrate whichever holidays you so choose.

Here are a few photos of our holiday decorations. I still need to take pictures of the outdoor stuff. More photos can be found on my Flickr photo page.

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