Monday, December 17, 2007
Decorating the tree
I don't know when I became such a Grinch. The roots might have been during house staff years. We got one guaranteed week off each year, and it was during the winter holidays, either the week over Christmas or the following New Year's week. Half the staff got off each week, and because Christmas week was more popular DH and I volunteered for New Year's, under the theory that it would be less likely that one of us would not get our request. In that case we would be stuck with a year having different weeks off, in addition to those long months of being on out-of-sync every-third-night in-house call. Plus, it was a nice gesture to our fellow house staff who wanted to be home with their kids on Christmas. But the result was that we were working over Christmas, so got out of the habit of doing much for it.
It might be simply a side-effect of living in the Frozen Tundra of the North, where by this time of year the days are very short and the nights are very long and heaven help us when we have multiple storm systems moving through and we don't see the sun for weeks, as happened this Autumn. I have no interest in anything requiring exertion at this time of the year. (Though I am happy to report that the light boxes I invested in a week or so ago appear to be making a difference.)
Or, it might be because of my approach to life in general and holidays in particular, which is that if I keep my expectations low, anything nice that happens will be a pleasant surprise, and if nothing nice happens, no big deal. I'm not even going to try to dig out the roots of that philosophy, which has the useful result that I don't have elaborate expectations of my friends or lover regarding things like birthdays or Valentine' Day, or Christmas. But I must admit that it is occasionally problematic because I don't do much for my friends' birthdays, either, or at this point really comprehend that others may be emotionally invested in these events. Methinks the pendulum may have swung a little too far.
Well, an unexpectedly nice thing happened this year. My friend D- couldn't bear the thought of our not decorating for Christmas, though I assured her that I was pretty sure we had a fiber-optic 15-inch tree in a box somewhere in storage, and we would drag it out and set it up by Christmas. My two-minute decorating approach. So she came by with a large box of lights and ornaments, including a 3-foot tree, that she wasn't going to use this year, and we set up the tree and hung garlands of light around the house.
We had multiple ornament casualties the first day, as they shattered when knocked off the tree, which is on a table surrounded by wood floors. (Thank you, Sharae. Bad kitty.) The tree did seem a little naked with only lights, and everything else looked so much nicer, so I overcame my inertia and bought some less breakable bulbs and garlands and did up the tree proper. And I remembered, while looking at ridiculously expensive tree skirts that I declined to purchase, that I had a nice red afghan, usually used by the cats in the den, which would make a perfect Christmas tree skirt. The kitties concurred, and since the tree has been finished someone generally claims the best spot underneath for their afternoon nap.
DH seems especially happy to have the house decorated for Christmas, as he was big on holidays before he married a Grinch. We plug in the decorations every night now, enjoying the emotional uplift of the extra lights in the dark afternoon and evening. There is good reason our species has festivals involving lights at this time of the year.
So thanks, D-.