Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas from the Ground Up

My parents house come the first week in December is a Christmas the best possible way. My mother has amassed an impressive amount of Christmas "things" over the years: dishtowels, santas, angels, a full willow tree nativity set (which I love and envy!), dozens of ornaments from trips with my dad, a set of Christmas dishes, several Christmas cross stitch pictures that replace the nautical ones that normally hang on our walls, etc. It's a holiday wonderland without being too much - I know it probably sounds like too much, but it's all tasteful and lovely.

When it comes to decorating, I do try to copy my mom to a certain degree, I won't lie. I tend to like the same colors she does when it comes to paint, prefer hardwood to carpet, don't like fussy curtains or fussy throw rugs, don't like too much clutter. I think I add a little "travel flair" to our apartment with my relics from Africa, the small things we collected in Costa Rica and Jamaica, and a few things inherited from relatives here and there, including pictures from Aruba that are painted on butterfly wings that are backed with newspaper dated from the early 40's. Naturally when it comes to the holidays, I want to have a winter wonderland too, but with a little twist of Allison...but I have not spent the last 18 years or so collecting Christmas what to do?

Decorating is a lot of work, I have discovered, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I have loved every second of it, every finger stabbed with a pin sewing a tree skirt, blisters from my circle punch for garland-making, every burn I've sustained from the glue gun. I'm started to slowly transform each room. Jam mocked me at first, but upon the official hanging of the first garland, he said "Wow. Looks good! I like it!" I am not quite finished with all the decor, but I think everything is going to come together nicely, and that excites me. I'll have to share some pics later!

As for the tree, that was a hilarious escapade. I wanted a live tree because that's what I'm used to, it's what I grew up with, and there's a nursery about 1 minute away from our apartment selling trees. I arrived there at 4:58 on a Monday night, with about two minutes to run around the lot and find a tree. Jamaal had said "don't get anything huge." I chose a modest-sized tree, only slightly taller than me (or so it seemed), paid for it, and was sent out with the "tree boy" to get it onto/into my Subaru. "It's my first day" the tree boy said. "It's my first tree" I replied. "What to we do?" asked tree boy. "I could just shove it in the back," he observed, "I have the same car, and I know I could fit this tree in the back of my Forester." "Uhhhhhh. I guess that'd be ok" was my stupid reply. Five minutes later, I'm driving home with the tailgate open, the hazards flashing, and a piece of fir tree stabbing me in the neck. Luckily the drive was short. I had been irritated by my husband's lack of enthusiasm for a Christmas tree, so I bitterly dragged the tree to the door by myself. It was light, and carrying it wasn't an issue. The truly large proportions of the tree did not hit me until I tried to drag it through our narrow back door and winding staircase. The tree was, basically, too fat. I turned it trunk first and yanked, squeezed it through the door and up the stairs into our living room. All traces of annoyance that had been on Jam's face (probably annoyed that I was so bitchy about the tree) were replaced by sheer amusement. "I'm so sorry!" I said, "I had NO IDEA how huge this tree would be once taken out of the tree lot and put in our home. Ohmygod. Sorry!!!!" I think Jamaal found the situation pretty funny. He was a great help when it came time to put the tree in my Target-purchased stand, which now seemed comically small. We managed though - we got the thing upright and even, and had to "straighten and redo" the whole stand process only one time. Our tilted apartment floors made everything a tiny bit of a challenge, but in what seemed like a short time, our tree was ready for the lights I had so lovingly picked out and purchased.

As for the lights, remember those berry lights I loved? The LED ones? Yeah, when we got to Target, there
was one box left. I bought those and some round lights, both in soft white, thinking "they'll match, and next year, I'll buy the berry ones for the tree, and use the plain rounds to decorate something else." I bought three boxes, thinking that there'd be plenty of yardage for our tree. Ha ha stupid. The three strands covered about half the tree. Not to be deterred, I arranged to get a ride home from work from my sister the following night so we could stop at the Target at South Bay for a more extensive search. She found two boxes of soft white led round lights. How she did this, I have NO idea, because all I could find were blue and pink. She's a rockstar. Thinking that five strands would seal the deal, I rushed home to complete the tree. I was short AGAIN. UGH. The following Thursday I went to two Targets, in Hanover and Abington, in search of more lights (because these were LED and a specific brand seemingly only sold at Target, I was trying to match what I had....if I weren't so frickin' type A, I would've gone to Home Depot, bought the first strand of soft white lights I saw, and called it a day). Anyways, my lights were gone. Totally gone. I finally dug out my old twinkle lights from my college dorm days, threw them on the tree, and was DONE. Actually, it doesn't look half bad:

Now that the ornaments are on it, and the rest of the house is in the Christmas spirit, it actually looks quite lovely. The family came over yesterday, and they all gave it their stamp of approval. I love how we went from fiasco to success :-) I love how I managed to create my own little Christmas explosion. Next up: decorations!

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