Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Improper Poll: Death by Christmas Décor

When I was growing up, my mother used to decorate with nostalgia. I don’t mean decorations with a nostalgic feel, either. She had to have every ornament and light that had survived her own childhood—even if her entire childhood would have been outlawed by today’s EPA. I still consider it a miracle that her tree had once been lighted by seriously frayed 1940s bubble lights rather than actual flaming candles.

Then there was the wreath. In life it had been made of real holly, but that holly hadn't seen life since at least two wars earlier. In death it had atrophied and mummified into a vicious, gnarled business I still think of as The Wreath of Wrath. It was a cruel crown of thorns that lived in the bowels of the scary-crawl-space during the rest of the year and drew blood even through the most heavy duty pair of mittens. It was always below zero in Nebraska at that time of year, so the unfortunate Christmas decorator was besieged by all sorts of peril. And guess who was always voted Noel Ostentatious Ornamentation Operator (N.O.O.O.)?

So when my daughter and I decorated, I tried to get an honest look at what I was putting up. Some is trying to be pretty, and some is a little nostalgic, and some is blatantly tacky…or what the children liked to call “fun.” Not only does baby Jesus slumber in front of a strobe-lighted manger of pine garland, but a quilted Rudolf-trophy head presides over the room just because I enjoy its satirical feel.

So tell me: Do you have dangerous décor? Or do you do pretty, tacky or nostalgic? Or all of the above? Or nothing at all?

P.S.-Many, many thanks to those of you who came out to see us for the Fourth Annual "Chicken Soup for the Soul, Canned Soup for the Body" event!!! I will be posting more about this later!


  1. Seriously? Holly that was decades old? I can't top that tale...

  2. That mounted head freaks me out. But then all the snowmen in my living room would do that to you. My tree ornaments are mostly crafted by kids or grandkids or from years ago when my kids were young. But I can do sleazy too. In the bathroo, I've got a battery operated naked Santa (genitals covered with bubbles) in a bathtub that sings, Splish Splash I was taking a bath long about a Christmas eve night.

  3. We just decorate the tree. Though, in order to avoid sounding ordinary, I DID leave it up one year until July.

    I used to have a styrofoam ball ornament that I made at my grandma's house as a kid. It was twined with colored pipe cleaners that could poke your eye out, and encrusted with red and green glitter that could be inhaled and cause lung scarring.

    For some reason, Hick the Decorator quit hanging my very special ornament on the tree. Let the record show that he has vision in only one eye, and a raspy cough, and that I deny all culpability.

  4. I definitely do both tacky and sentimental and whatever... one ornament that I have that kind of reminds me of your mother's wreath is one of those that might be an orange that has cloves poked all over in it and then it hangs by green and red yarn. It's ugly and probably something that would cause an illness, but since one of my kids made it, I won't part with it.

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  6. Rather than a color-coordinated thing of beauty, my tree is a collection of assorted ornaments...some purchased, some made by kids, and some received as gifts. If you were being charitable, you could call it interesting.

    Critter Alley

  7. Umm. The mounted head above the Nativity scene is a shocker, but who am I to judge. My decorations, like my life, is a hodge-podge. Right now our tree has one ornament on it--one my grandson brought home from school yesterday--although it's quite lovely.

  8. My stuff is a bit of a mix. Nothing too tacky, except the giant light-up family of snowmen in my front yard. :)

  9. Oh, no, I can just see you having to go retrieve that wreath! I love your reindeer.

    I have so many sentimental things; decorations from when I was married in 1978 and when the kids were little until ones bought last year. I have barely begun to decorate, though things are scattered about. What a mess, is all I can think of right now.

    Kathy M.


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