OUR MANAGEABLE LITTLE CHRISTMAS AND HOW IT GOT THAT WAY – Marilyn Armstrong

When I was little, everyone’s trees were covered in tinsel and some fluffy white stuff. It imitated snow on the branches of your tree and placed judiciously, was quite lovely. The white fluffy stuff was banned because it was mostly fiberglass. It was lethal to pets and dangerous for people, too.

2003

As for tinsel, I think it was a cleanup issue. It got into everything. Animals ate it, including dogs, cats, and baby rug-rats. It did look very pretty, all silvery on the trees. It came in other colors too, but I don’t think most people really got “into” the pinks and oranges and blues.

From when I married Jeffrey in 1964, we had ‘real’ trees. It was a family thing, to get the biggest tree you could, then spend hours reconstructing it with saws and wires to make it look perfect

2015

Real Christmas trees weren’t expensive, either. Even though they made an awful mess (I was usually still trying to get those dried pine needles out of the wood floors a year later when the new tree was going up), it wasn’t a big deal to get a tree and there was a tree lot on every corner.

2017

Then one year — it must have been during the late 1970s — the price shot up and a tree that had cost $10 the previous year was $50 the next.

We still got a real one until the end of the 1970s when Jeff and I divorced and I moved to Israel.

2014

By the time I came back from Israel (August 1987), a $10 tree was $100. Garry and I bought got real ones for a few years when we had the townhouse in Boston. One was so perfect — and so WIDE — it took up the entire living room. The following year I tried to find an unreal tree that would fit into our actual space.

Christmas cactus – 2018

Then we moved here and since we live 5 doors down from an actual Christmas tree farm (which today I noticed is for sale, so there goes Arrowhead Farms!), you could choose your tree in August or September, watch it grow, then cut it down yourself immediately before you were ready to put it up. Talk about a FRESH tree.

I never had trouble putting up the tree and everyone was eager to help decorate it, but no one ever wanted to take it down or put away the decorations. We still had a tree standing one year on my birthday in March.

2016

We had a few more live ones after that, but the bloom was coming off the rose. Even a six-foot tree took up more room than we could really give it. There was nowhere to walk around it — and the dogs were always trying to eat the glass ornaments.

NO ONE wants their dogs eating glass anything, much less those fragile ornaments. Cats just liked to play with them, but the dogs liked a good hefty bite! Then, for a while, it became almost impossible to get glass ornaments. Some sort of national agreement that all decorations would be plastic.

A few years ago when my son and his family moved out, Garry and I realized we didn’t need gigantic trees. We started buying little real trees in pots on the theory that we could plant them in the spring, but they never survived long enough to plant. They dried out and died long before it was warm enough to plant anything.

2014 – The year of two small trees!

Finally, three years ago, I found the perfect fake 4-foot tree. It looks so much like a real tree, most people think it is real until they touch it and even then, they aren’t sure.  I had a lot of searching to do to find it.

Also, it is big enough to have some presence. It feels like a tree, not like a toy yet it is small enough to put on our huge coffee table on which we never serve coffee. The table really functions as a place to show off old pottery and other small decorative things because under the glass top is a shelf for “stuff.” And it’s big enough to sort the laundry.

2013

Thus we found a viable version of Christmas for us. It is big enough to be a Christmas but sufficiently small and neat to make it something we could do ourselves without winding up exhausted with a giant mess following the holiday.

I think our 4-foot always-decorated tree is perfect. It safeguards all our earlier Christmases and it’s ready in half a blink to take its place. From last year, it also has lights.

2018 again

There’s nothing religious — per se — about the tree but there is symbolism in it and continuity. It means something because we’ve always had some kind of Christmas. This is easy, pretty, painless … so we get to keep our personal history.

A very little, very pretty Christmas from us to you! And don’t forget: at least one of us is sort of Jewish, in a casual sort of way.

ONE JAPANESE TEA SET OVER THE LINE

Garry went to New York to help clean out his parents home on Long Island. He went with my explicit instructions: do not bring home anything. We have no room. NO ROOM. None. Anywhere. Not on the shelves, the cabinets, the tops of the bookcases. Nowhere.

He was pretty good about it. All he brought home was one lovely Japanese tea set. Five cups. I assume one was broken. Plus the teapot, sugar bowl, and creamer. Lovely. Dragon style, which is a favorite of mine.

Not long ago. I gave away a nearly identical tea set as a wedding present, but clearly I am supposed to have a Japanese tea set. It must be a genetic thing. This is not my first … or fifth … Japanese tea set. I have had antiques. New ones. Sets made for children. Many sets made in weird shapes which were surely never meant for the actual serving of tea.

I recognized that I could not escape this tea set. I rearranged the stuff in my glass chest and somehow managed to fit it in. I’m so glad there were only five cups. One more, and I would have been lost.

It’s a beautiful set. Made of the finest porcelain so lightweight it’s almost not there. Beautiful, but my problem is not a dearth of beautiful things. I have far too many beautiful things and I wish someone else wanted them. I’d happily give them away, including some rare, very old Chinese porcelain.

Does anyone need a lovely, handmade Japanese tea set? I’ve got an extra.

OH CHRISTMAS TREE … WEE CHRISTMAS TREE …

Christmas living room poster 2015

After last year’s “live baby tree” debacle wherein all three baby trees died in their pots before the ground unfroze enough to plant anything, I have returned to the fake tree alternative.

Christmas old photo postcard 2015

It turns out, we don’t have tree lights because all the trees we’ve had for the past five or six (or more?) years came with lights. The price of lights has gotten sufficiently high to make me feel I can live without them.

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I added red bells, big silver ribbon atop the tree (all four feet of it!) … and red velvet bows. With some gold curling ribbon to fill the gaps and it’s pretty.

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Surprisingly satisfying. Not finished, quite. A little more to do and presents to be wrapped will fill the table eventually.

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Modest, but definitely a Christmas tree. It’s the season of lights, but not on our tree.

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ON THE WALL AND EVERYWHERE ELSE

DAILY PROMPT: Wall to Wall — What do you display on the walls of your home — photos, posters, artwork, nothing? How do you choose what to display? What mood are you trying to create?


Normally, I’d say this is a dumb prompt. But considering that the only other thing I could write about this icy, frozen morning, is weather — and I’ve written a LOT about weather in recent weeks — I’ll write about home decorations. Why not?

BEDROOM WEST 6

There’s stuff all over this house. Pottery, antiques, photographs, awards, old dolls, and other stuff. Paintings from known and unknown artists. Photographs by other photographers, one by Alfred Eisenstadt plus a couple by Alison Shaw. It isn’t all wall art. It stands on the mantel, on the tops of cabinets, inside display cases. It is everywhere.

inside the fetish cabinetWe have display cabinets full of carved Native American fetishes.

BEDROOM SOUTH 7

I have a philosophy about decorating, that when you look around, your eyes should find interesting things to see. That merely looking around should be entertainment, maybe even educational. And your wall should be “you,” a display of the things that matter to you, that fascinate you, that amuse you.

Hallway

For example, bookcases. You can look at the contents of someone’s bookcase and know a lot about them. About everyone who shares the house, their interests, their hobbies, their profession.

Front entry hall in sunlight

Have you ever gone to someone’s house and seen no bookcases? Blank walls? I’m sure it’s easier to keep clean (my house is a nightmare to maintain) … but the walls would stare with empty eyes.

HOLIDAY HOME

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: Week 41

This week, I thought I’d post some of the pictures I’ve taken around the house. Decorations. Lights. Our tiny little Christmas tree from L.L. Bean. I hope you enjoy them.

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Tomorrow, it’s time to start the wrapping!