Decking the House for the Holidays
Growing up, our Christmas tree always went up on Thanksgiving. It was an absolute huge fake tree that had color coded branches that had to be put together in a certain order. It took hours, especially when the colors started fading, but the end result was a beautiful tree that visitors always thought was real. The decorating of the tree would take place throughout the day, in between cooking and eating and socializing. When I married, I told my husband of this tradition and while he didn’t understand the need to put the tree up on Thanksgiving, he humored me because he loved me. It also helped that he enjoys the holidays and making the house look festive. My mother always said that once we were settled into a place of our own, we could haul the huge tree in its huge box (think bigger than the biggest refrigerator box you’ve ever seen) to our home and carry on the tradition of the tree. When my husband saw the size of the box in my parents store-room he stated that he didn’t think we would ever have a place big enough for the tree and I whispered that it was fine because we could always start new traditions.
Our first tree was one that was maybe two feet tall and we put it on the middle of our coffee table. We chose some of the family ornaments that we had brought with us and gradually added new ones as well. Every Thanksgiving we decorated the tree while the turkey was in the oven. At the end of the day, we would turn the lights on the tree and everything seemed peaceful and calming. The only time our tree didn’t get put up on Thanksgiving was when my husband had been deployed on a peace keeping mission to Kosovo and actually returned home the day before Thanksgiving. We picked him up at 3:00 am and he spent most of the next 48 hours sleeping. I put up a few things while he was sleeping, but it has always been something that we have done together.
Decorating the outside of the house has always been his territory. He can see in his head what he wants to do with the decorations and while he will ask me my opinion, I really leave it up to him. The only thing I insist on is that the lights be multicolored. I am not a fan of lights being one color, so he goes along with me on that.When our son was young, he went all out, but as we have all gotten older, we have kept the outside simple, yet welcoming. One of my favorite holiday looks was the first year in our house in Kansas. We purchased real pine garland and outlined the front of the house with it and had the lights shining out from the branches. Large burgundy bows and a huge wreath completed the look.
One year my husband was off and I had to work, so he decided that he and our son would get the lights up outside early. When I pulled up, I noticed that our neighbor, who never seemed to get his outside lights up all the way, had actually put up lights. Lights that looked like ours. My husband was sitting on a stool in the garage with strings of lights laying in rows on the floor, testing bulbs because they wouldn’t come on. I noticed there were no lights on the house.
“What’s wrong with the lights?” I asked getting out of the car.
“They won’t come on. I’ve been checking the bulbs. But every time I find one, another goes out.”
Hmmm, I thought, that’s what happened last year and we had to buy new lights. I got into the garage and I noticed that the lights on the floor were the lights from last year. You know, the broken ones that we couldn’t fix so we had to buy new ones. I stepped back out of the garage and looked at our neighbors house. “So Robert put up lights too?” I asked.
My husband looked at me, “Yeah, we helped him. His didn’t work so I gave him our old set.”
“That’s why they look familiar.” I replied. I looked back at the strings of lights on the garage floor. “Do you remember last year, when you couldn’t get the lights to work?”
He grunted, “That seems like every year, but yes I remember. We had to go out and buy new ones.” He looked up at me looking over at the neighbors lights and the light bulb went off. “Son of a !@#$%!!!”
“Yeppers!” I replied walking back to my car. He began rolling up the broken lights before joining me in the car where we went to buy new holiday lights for the outside of the house.
“At least Robert won’t look like Grinch this year.” he said nodding to the lights.