Coffee with Mimi; Holiday planning
Published 6:20 pm Friday, November 8, 2019
By MIMI BECKER
The holiday season is upon us. How could we miss it with the shopping arenas already decking the halls and aisles? But, I have no right to judge. Our family will be eating turkey and ravioli this very weekend. It’s quite hypocritical of me to make any negative comment on the early appearance of holiday supplies and reminders; because I am already working on it myself.
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For the past several years, we have travelled to the beach for the customary Thanksgiving week. For a variety of reasons, we are not this year. Thanksgiving will travel to us. In the past we have had the best of intentions of getting the house in the festive mood early so as to avoid last minute, stressful decorating. I always rather envied those individuals who unabashedly planned well in advance and used the Thanksgiving weekend to put up the tree and lighted villages and porch enhancements. But, with the long drive back from the away holiday, it was necessary to launch into reality of work. Then the next weekend was busy and the next and the next. Before we knew it, we were faced with a bare tree corner and family practically pulling into the driveway.
At this point, tree decorating becomes tree chore. We have to drag the multiple bags of branches up from the basement. An artificial tree is a necessity in our family due to allergies. There is no Norman Rockwell moment of choosing the perfect shape and enjoying the woodsy fragrance of a fresh cut tree. Hauling the tree refers to getting it up the stairs and sorting the layers of branches which, in the rush to take it down the previous year, I may have not marked very carefully.
Often, as we are rushing to get our home festive at the last minute, we discover that the tree lights do not work. Now, I can promise you, they were working the last time they were on the tree. There must be little creatures in the basement who have holiday parties during the year in the basement storage room. This is an added stress because all self- respecting tree decorators have already bought every strand of little, clear lights within a 50 mile radius.
Since we are under pressure to squeeze in the whole event, we frequently end up in a grumpy, Scrooge frame of mind. Grandiose ideas about mantel adornments, a separate kitchen tree – we do have ornaments for that, and elegant exterior lights fall by the wayside. We often end up with the bare minimum of tree and some candles here and there. I comfort myself with the results saying, it isn’t about the decorations, but the experience of family and friends.
I do want the experience to include the Norman Rockwell moments and at a leisurely pace. A timetable that includes a fire in the fireplace, a Christmas movie on the TV, or a basketball game and some refreshments is what I have in mind. Our tree is large and our ornament collection is extensive. The perfect decorating experience could involve more than one day so we can savor each step in the process.
Our granddaughter was born on Christmas Eve. Since the year she became aware of the significance of that, she has loved Christmas and considers it her own. It goes way beyond the usual child’s anticipation and involves traditions. Her mom and dad tell how she helps place the ornaments on the tree with care, even asking how each came to the family and who gave it to her. Now that she is older, she can tell the stories. Christmas decorations are a big deal and her mom is organized and prepared to make the event important and special. They decorate on Thanksgiving weekend, or if they go to the beach with us, BEFORE the leave!
I love our tree. I want to enjoy it as long as possible before Christmas and as long as acceptable afterwards. So here is the plan. We will involve our granddaughter. She is coming here for Thanksgiving. The key to the success of this plan is advance planning. The tedious steps of tree hauling and assembly must be completed before she becomes involved. Her parents, not being as old as us, have not had as many years to accumulate the assortment of ornaments made by children. Her mom, a teacher, hasn’t had nearly the number of years of student Christmas gifts as I had. Their tree is an appropriate size for this stage of their lives. Our tree, on the other hand, could be an overwhelming task for even the most Christmas tree decorating loving child.
The best approach would be to put the tree up BEFORE she arrives, leaving the ornament hanging for her arrival. Thanksgiving is later in the month than usual. Plenty of time, you say. Have you looked at the calendar? Not counting this weekend, there are TWO weekends before Thanksgiving Day. So, the plan to enjoy the tree experience by working ahead is dangerously close to adding stress to an otherwise calm and peaceful November weekend.