Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas decorating

It's almost Christmas. I know that a lot of people love holiday decorations, and love decorating their own homes, and enjoy holiday activities.

But me? It's hard for me to get excited about Christmas. Honestly, I think my career ruined it for me.

At one point in my theatrical career, I had a steady job at a large event facility for several years, and my department was responsible for decorating the place for Christmas. I guess you could say I was a professional Christmas decorator.

We started on Veterans' Day, and worked through the day before Thanksgiving, on the night shift. We hoisted 25-foot tall trees into place and strung lights from railings. We wore fall-arrest harnesses to ride up in telescoping personnel lifts, hanging snowflakes from the rafters and ornaments on the tree.

Our lift-baskets were stacked with boxes from China holding scores of identical plastic nutcrackers, gilt-plastic hunting horns, shiny red globes, styrofoam apples covered in bright red glazing, reindeer figures fashioned from bamboo splints, and glitter-sprinkled fake pointsettia blooms.

When you decorate on this scale, nothing is unique, special, or treasured. How's one plastic blue-coated nutcracker doll different from his red-coated counterpart? Or one glitter-spangled styrofoam ball special? Everything is crappy, everything is trash.

I did this every year for about eight years. By the time we held the great Lighting Ceremony on the day after Thanksgiving, I would be sick to death of Christmas.

[The Man I Love] is more Christmassy than I am. When I married, and Our Son was born, he got us a Christmas tree for our little bungalow. There was a hardware store down on Rainier Avenue called Chubby & Tubby where they sold trees for $5. We bought a few strings of lights and some glass globes. My contribution was a couple dozen cheap crappy Chinese ornaments, swiped from work, to flesh out our meager stock.

Decorating the tree at our house was always a little unsatisfying to me. I just felt irritated. [The Man I Love] was being inefficient, I thought; we weren't approaching it methodically, we were wasting time.

Finally one year, after another barely supressed sigh or impatient"tsk!" from me, he suddenly stopped what he was doing and stood straight up.

"Why don't you sit down over there," he said, pointing at the couch. He put a glass of wine in my hand. "You're treating this too much like Work. [Our Son] and I will decorate the tree. You just relax and watch, instead."

And so I did. I didn't think about any of it, just watched as the afternoon light faded, the last ornament was put in place, and the lights twinkled in the darkened room.

That was the best holiday gift I've had in a long time.


Tristan Robin said...

I also went through a period of not having the right frame of mind to decorate for the holidays - and I didn't. Not a darned thing.

But a few years ago I got the urge to look at some of my old ornaments. The ensuing years have brought back my passion for it and will have three trees and various vignettes this year!

mo.stoneskin said...

Sorted. I mean, is there anything better than having a glass of wine put in your hand? I think not.

Anonymous said...
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Jason, as himself said...

Me, too. Only my job didn't ruin it for me.

Gilly said...

What a nice husband! AND a glass of wine!

I used to get very decorative, but haven't got the heart for it now, with just the two of us! But visitors this Christmas will no doubt spur me on!