The old song says that everyone’s a child at Christmas.
I am glad to hear someone else say that.
This year (and, okay, not for the first time), I wondered, while getting out the worn and battered boxes that store my decades-worth of Christmas decorations, whether it was time to grow up about my Christmas decorating.
I mean, I began my Christmas collection that first year we were married, in Palo Alto, when we did not have the vacation days or the financial resources to come ‘home’ to the East Coast for Christmas with our families. We stayed put and had our first Christmas, and our first Christmas decorations.
I started decorating the stair railing in the first house we owned, when we suddenly had a staircase. I came up with a scheme of green garlands, hung with gingerbread and peppermint ornaments. The children were still in early single digits ages then, back in the early 1990’s. Are we too adult for these themes now?
Is there a maturity curve to Christmas decorations?
And my Christmas dining table… Hmmm. It generally starts out as a small forest of mini Christmas trees, and as the Day approaches, it is increasingly populated by reindeer, and Santa, and Mrs. Claus. Have we outgrown the North Pole centerpiece?
Around the house, there are Santas and snowmen on the powder room vanity, a sleigh and reindeer atop the living room desk, polar bears with bells peeking out from under the front hall table plant….
Well, I have collected Christmas decorations with more gravitas over the years as well, a grim-faced Nutcracker with a stylish fur hat,
a seriously elegant Russian Santa dusted with just the perfect frosting of crystal glitter,
and an outstanding collection of Christopher Radko ornaments for the tree and the mantelpieces.
Is it time to discipline myself to these more restrained and adult decorations?
Last weekend the ‘kids’ helped me put up the tree, and I kept on decorating. Since then, I have been wondering.
Then, this past week, December guests have been coming to the apartment, committee members for an event planning meeting, and friends stopping by to pick me up before heading out, then My Husband’s cousins and our children for a festive weekend lunch.
And they all oohed and aaahed, over the table centerpiece with its reindeer, and my matching reindeer napkins, over the Radko bedecked tree, over the Santas tucked into corners of the desk, and even those on the counter in the powder room.
The ‘Children’ have visited, and they have sat in the armchairs by the Christmas tree, the ones with the holiday needle point pillows,
checking emails and text messages on their phones and tablets, but also taking stock of and remembering our family Christmas history, through the decorations.
And I realized that they all, friends, family and children alike, love my ‘childish’ holiday themes, and my aging collection of Christmas ornaments and decorations. They enjoy being in my house, a holiday decorated house, soaking in the ready-for-Christmas spirit that ornaments and decorations and hospitality (and a little Christmas baking) can genuinely create.
There are very few things that I miss about life in the suburbs, but being in other people’s decorated homes before Christmas is definitely one of them. Hosts and Hostesses in the suburbs are really good about holiday parties in their own homes. In the city, people tend to share the holidays in more public spaces, attending Christmas parties in clubs, enjoying seasonal events in hotels, or actually making trips to family homes to enjoy the Christmas decorations – in the suburbs.
In the city you can still enjoy other people’s decorations, just on the outside of their houses.
I bet you love them too, other people’s decorations, I mean. The friend who has a collection of over a hundred Nutcrackers to display on her mantles and windowsills, or the friend with Santas of every possible description on her bookshelves, sideboard and living room tables, maybe the home with a collection of secret Santa mice tucked away everywhere for you (I mean, the children) to find. In my memory one of the most fabulous experiences was always my friend Erika’s mythical Radko tree, almost two stories tall, which she decorated from a scaffold every year. It was laden with glass garlands, and tree toppers, and glass balls, and ornaments of every possible description. It took your breath away. An heirloom tree.
So here I am, back to my decades worth of child-inspired Christmas decorating. A house full of ornaments, and Santas, and faux-peppermint candies, and whimsy, and history. A house to welcome guests, and family, at Christmas. It turns out it’s a nice gift to be able to share.
The holiday spirit, for the child in all of us, at Christmas.
‘Tis the season.