Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Deck The Halls

Like many families, we went out and got our Christmas tree this weekend and did the majority of the decorating for the holiday. We splurged (at my urging) and got the pricier Noble fir tree vs. the cheaper Douglas fir because, well, Nobles are just better Christmas trees. They are! Doug firs have just never done it for me. The branches aren't strong enough for heavier ornaments, and the trees are denser, which results in it looking like the ornaments are sort of laying against the outside of the tree. Ornaments need to hang and the tree should have depth. Clearly I'm a Noble fir snob. Shut up.

We bought the lovely Noble fir Christmas tree for $20 (Douglas firs were going for $10 - you get what you pay for.). The lot was selling them at that price for up to 5.5 feet tall. They had separated the trees shorter ones on one side, taller trees on the other. I happened across a lovely Noble on the short side of the aisle. Technically it was taller than 5.5 feet, but the guy sold it to us for $20 anway (vs. $30 for over 5.5 feet). So we're off to a good start, right?

We get the tree home and Nicholas is practically peeing himself with excitement to decorate. He can't wait to dig through the boxes of Christmas stuff and see everything. Mr. Chick had rented The Polar Express DVD and we had the Egg Nog waiting. All very Dickensesque. I had the make a quick run to the store to get another couple strands of lights because those suckers just don't last, but soon we were in full swing. I strung the lights on the tree because that HAS to happen first (there IS a certain order to decorating a proper tree - duh!) And then it was all about controlling the chaos as the kids went to town putting ornaments on the tree. I'm all about participation, but I draw the line at having all the ornaments clustered together on the bottom quarter of the tree (perfect child height). I had to discreetly re-hang most of them, but in the jubilation neither child seemed to mind or even notice. It didn't take us long to finish. Voila!

Nicholas has since spent lots of time just staring at his stocking or even stroking it. He loves his stocking, obviously. Mr. Chick's aunt, who owns a knitting shop and is a master knitter, made the stocking for Nicholas's first Christmas. It's awesome. It has Santa on it and a bunch of buttons shaped like toys have been sewed onto Santa's bag. That what Nicholas keeps looking at - all the toy buttons. I've been waiting for 3 Christmas's now for a stocking for Lauren, but still we wait. Instead we've hung a stocking she made for Mr. Chick when he was a boy as Lauren's and are working with that until we can convince her to make one. Can you tell the difference in colors from one generation to the next?

As for outdoor lighting decorations, it's a big deal in my family. For years my father has held his own private competition in his neighborhood for who has the best lights. There are rules, you see. Rules only he and my family know about. And shockingly, he wins every year (of course he does, no one else even knows he competing! Oh the silly fun we have.). For example, a house will get fewer points if the lights aren't straight. If they hang down and are sloppy in general you are docked points. No way you can win. You also get dinged if you have tacky lawn decorations. The occasional lit deer, tastefully displayed, is acceptable. But cheesy flashing trains on top of your roof? You're out. You also risk losing if you use those mesh bush lights. Those are tricky. They have to be used wisely as to prevent the look of a perfectly square mesh tossed onto a bush ad hoc. No no no. You MUST not appear to use short-cuts such as that that end up backfiring. And right now, icicle lights are just so overdone that you lose points if you use them. So, what did Mr. Chick go out and buy this year for our outdoor lighting? Yes, you guessed it: mesh bush lights. He is risking major ridicule if word of this leaks out. I had to assist him in the strategic placing of these mesh lights in order to obscure the fact that they were, in fact, mesh lights. It's tricky. The shrubs with which I helped look OK. They were small enough for the mesh lights to work and be adequately camoflaged. But then I left Mr. Chick to his own devices and the results were, shall we say, sub par. Way way WAY sub par. He commited the ultimate Christmas light faux pas that flies in the face of all known etiquette: he draped a large bush with a square mesh and left it at that. So at night when you turn the lights on we have two bushes artfully done. They look festive! And then we have this long section of shrubbery with a random square section that is lit. No edges are tucked under. No small branches are tastefully poking through. Nope - it's just a big square mesh monstrosity. And what's worse? HE THINKS IT LOOKS ACCEPTABLE! Oh no, this simply will not do. Now I'LL have to go out and fix this situation. We cannot have tacky mesh bush lights that reveal us to be the white trash we so desperately attempt to conceal!

And so begins the holiday season. I'm madly working to finish my handmade gifts and it's going well. I was even asked to teach some neighbors how to crochet yesterday and spent an hour or two showing them how to do it. They love the mittens I'm making and are determined to be able to make a pair themselves. It was fun to teach.

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