Talk about approach-avoidance. Taking down our fall decorations, which I confess to liking far more than the Christmas ones, is always tough.
Being an autumn child, I love the cozy richness of fall’s bronze-burnished hues, the deep oranges and golds of pumpkins and gourds, the incandescence of leaves and most of all, the colors of Indian corn.
It looks so festive on tabletops and on the hearth, adding its own scent to the sweet aromas of ripening apples and quinces, and the baking spice cloud that hovers around the harvest candles my friend Mary knows I adore.
The only things that can put me over the edge to pack it all away are the promise of the scent of fir, the Chinese rendition of “White Christmas” from my somewhat ditzy snowy musicale, the anticipation of the festive lights my husband strings up everywhere and the reunion with all those precious keepsake ornaments my mother and grandmother gave me over the years.
Tarnished as the silver (plated) bells are, I grudgingly clean them with metal polish – the same bottle I’ve had for decades – and suddenly they are bright with the glow, the jingle and the memories of holidays past. I think fondly of my paternal grandmother, who always had the most elegantly decorated home and the perfect, white dove-adorned tree.
It floors me to hold in my hand my favorite bell, inscribed Christmas 1978. That time in my life is so foreign, I have to struggle to remember on which Christmas tree it was first hung. Where was I? Must have been Framingham, MA: a little old place on Pond Street where we actually got a decent-sized tree, and for the first time, my first husband and I cranked out gallon after gallon of homemade Kahlua and Galliano to give as gifts—that which we did not consume in the experimentation phase.
The other precious ornaments are the fragile set of small glass hearts, probably made in Germany, that my Mom gave me at least 30 years ago. Let’s just say a few have broken along the way: symbolic of life’s toll. I don’t remember which ones are missing any more, but I am ever more grateful to the ones that remain, chipped, faded, worn, yet proudly reprising their yearly role as my true harbinger of the holidays.
They serve to remind of many past Christmases, most spent in a whirlwind of visitation as we dashed through sleet and snow to family gatherings across the east coast.
It’s been years since we’ve actually had a Christmas tree: our home is surrounded by them, so it hardly seems fair to doom one to death. Instead, the hearts are hung with care on a funky Oaxacan cactus sculpture purchased in Santa Fe on a Christmas pilgrimage.
May lovely holiday memories surround you as you unpack your treasures, new and old, to decorate your home this season.