Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Christmas as a Metaphor

Christmas lingers, or rather the memory of Christmases past. And tomorrow I celebrate (?) my last birthday in my 40s.

On Sunday I started to pack away the Christmas decorations. If I have anything I could call a collection, it would be my decorations. Never mind that most were made in China (I always wonder what Chinese people think of these odd red and green things they make to sell to westerners). The decorations, particularly for the tree, have been collected since my early 20s. I have a hot air balloon (something I wanted to go up in at one point in my life) that was attached to a long-ago present. A china bell. Various angels. And Santas. Betty Boop on a motorcycle. A pink bicycle. A red train. A blue tractor. Wooden houses bought in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I had a thing for houses when I lived in apartments. An old-fashioned telephone. A lute. A wagon. A picture of me in my 20s that was an ornament on a staff Christmas tree one year. That one gets moved around the tree every year by my children. A crystal Christmas tree. A bird. Many salt dough and felt decorations made for a PTA fund raiser. A sheep's head made by one of my children in nursery. Fragile baubles from the '50s given to me by my mother-in-law. King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. A lighthouse with a wreath on it. Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, courtesy of Disney World. Winnie the Pooh and Goofy as well.

All of these decorations have a story about where they come from. No matter their provenance, each is treated with the same care and concern. This is why I didn't moan too much when no one offered to help me put things away.

They all were there when the tree came down and the decorations came out. I always play Christmas music as we decorate the tree. Hubby and I usually argue about the Christmas lights (is there anyone out there who doesn't argue with their spouse over the Christmas lights?). This year, though, we broke with tradition and allowed the kids to put up the lights and let them have the argument. Daughter lost all interest in the tree and Christmas after a couple of hours. She barely went in the room with the tree again after we decorated it. This is a far cry from when she was little. One Christmas Eve I shook carpet freshener on the carpet from the fireplace to the tree and had my husband step in it to leave "Santa's footprints." I feigned displeasure the next morning at having to clean up after Santa. Every year we leave a carrot for the reindeer and a mince pie and glass of wine for Santa. Every year Santa thanks us for these gifts, using his best left-handed writing.

This year I felt a bit melancholy packing away Christmas. How many more years before the kids don't come home at Christmas time, before my daughter demands "her" decorations for her tree, before hubby and I decide it's too much trouble to decorate the house for Christmas? I am on the precipice of 50; my life as I know it will probably change greatly this year as we move forward in our plan to buy a business. We have to really because hubby isn't going to get a job in financial services again anytime soon.

How many more years will those decorations last before they break and crumble?


DogLover said...

And doesn't the room always look so bare after the decorations have gone!

Going back to your last blog - I'd have volunteered to finish those peanut butter cookies and truffles and I'm a native of GB!

Best of luck for your final year in the 40s and for the new enterprise. Should be fun and it will mean a lot of hard work!

Mean Mom said...

I used to put the tree up with the children, when they were young, but my student son has put it up for the last few years. He is 19 and hasn't lost interest yet. I wasn't too well over Christmas and New Year, so if he hadn't put up the tree, I don't think that I would have had the energy! He complains a lot, when I ask him to help me take the decorations down, though.

I hope that 2009 is a much better year for you and your family.

Ref the old tree decorations - the old ones are better and much more interesting than any of this modern stuff, you know!!

Kaycie said...

Tomorrow is my birthday as well. I'll be 42 and my oldest turned 18 last month. The boys are 15 and 10 so I have some time left, but the dynamic has changed dramatically in our family. I find myself thinking more about when it will be the three of us rather than just the two of us. All of the children gone still seems far away to me. But I understand your melancholy.

I hope we both have a wonderful birthday tomorrow.

Fire Byrd said...

Happy Birthday for tomorrow, we'll have to do lunch soon to celebrate!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

DogLover: You're invited next time I bake. I love to have people eat my cooking.

Mean Mom: You must have had that flu. I had it too, but earlier. How come no one ever likes taking down the decorations?

kaycie: Happy Birthday, tomorrow! What will you be doing?

Fire Byrd: Yes, let's!

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

I love taking down the decorations! Can't wait - 31st of December the lights on the tree are magical - 1st of January they seem very tainted to me! As the room looks rather bare though I light up loads of scented and different candles and this makes the room look wonderfully cosy and still a bit magical.

Listen the next 50 years of your life will be with renewed vigour and hope and all done with certain freedoms that you haven't had since before you had the kids. It's a lot to look forward to and you will no doubt make a great go of that new business.

I know you have worries about your mammy but chin up and keep going. It's all you can do and she'd want you to be as worry free as possible. You have enough on your plate but maybe, just maybe, this is your year. X

softinthehead said...

I love getting the decorations out and thinking about the "provenance" of each one, but I also cannot wait to get them back under the stairs by New Years. Here's to a great 2009 for you all.

softinthehead said...

BTW many happy returns for tomorrow.

Expat mum said...

Ooh, you're a wee bit ahead of me so I shall be taking advice from you when my turn comes. My eldest will be escaping the nest at around the same time. Meanwhile, I have refused to take the tree down this week. They can all bloody well help me this weekend - far too much work for one disinterested person!

Anonymous said...

Well a very happy birthday to you. My husband leaves all the decs to me so we never argue over them. I imagine we would do though if he helped. Probably better he doesn't in that case.

CJ xx

jenny said...

the most my husband will do is bring out the boxes for me, then I usually do the rest, but this year, the girls wanted to put up the ornaments, so after I put up the lights, I gave them an ornament one by one. They didn't do too badly, if you don't mind the majority of them on the bottom branches! I do prefer to put them away myself, though, so I can wrap and carefully pack them up.

Happy birthday to you, hope you had a lovely day! xo