almost christmas . . .

by mulberryshoots

dsc_0010Do you know of things that seem to happen EVERY YEAR in your family while preparing for the holidays? In ours, it seems that the Christmas tree stand cannot be found. Anywhere. Each year, I vow to be sure to store it beside the lights so that the tree can be set up and the lights put on it. Without these two steps, we’re stymied. Usually the tree lights don’t work either.

So yesterday, while the weather was going at it in our town with an icy sleet-like snow, spitting ice bits, forming an invisible sheet of ice that kept you from moving very quickly from the front steps to the car, we looked high and low for the tree stand. By late afternoon, we had searched for it in the closets (3,) the basement, the barn, again in the basement but to no avail.

G. planned to go out to deliver the mince pies to family and neighbors leaving around 4:15 p.m. Unbeknownst to him, I had been on the phone upstairs calling around to Rocky Ace Hardware stores, Lowes, Jerry’s Hardware and found out that one Ace Hardware store had a metal tree stand and I asked him if he would kindly hold it for me: he said he would but that they closed at 5 p.m. on Sundays.

I put on my jacket, went outside on the slick ice on our driveway and noted that G.’s truck was still here. Of course, he had taken the Subaru because it has all wheel drive. Nonplussed, I called him on his cell phone and after about ten minutes, he picked me up and we headed to the hardware store in Tatnuck Square. No sense in tearing our hair out, we both agreed. We parked and as I paid, a man came in looking for a tree stand. Turns out I got the last one and he left empty-handed. We also bought some ice-melt for the steps.

Today, we measured the tree a couple of times, installed it into the new tree stand and I cut a cardboard tube to augment the support base of the angel that had been placed on top of my Christmas trees for the last forty years. Trimmed the top branches slightly and when we transferred the tree to the table covered with a turkey red tablecloth and a piece of wood for the stand, the angel’s head cleared the ceiling by about an inch. Well, maybe a little less than an inch, but I was pleased that my eyeballing the height of the tree on the lot had come this close. At least the lights worked for the first time in recent memory and I managed to place the first round of ornaments on the tree before stopping for the day.

I started thinking about all the time and effort that goes into making Christmas a setting for wonder and joy. The last three years, I packed everything up and we decorated a tree at the cottage on the ocean in Rockport, then hauled everything back after the holidays. Last year, I couldn’t find the blue elephant figure to save my life. This year, it was one of the first things that I found in a box–go figure. I also came upon a thick cinnamon-nutmeg scented candle, a dark maroon color that makes the room smell mysterious, even unlit.
Yesterday while grocery shopping at Stop and Shop, I came upon a small poinsettia of a different hue from the rest. Later I picked up a slightly larger one at the Price Chopper that complemented the first. It was so satisfying to find these beautiful blooms in such common places.
poinsettia 3
I guess that it’s meaningful for me to make these preparations because these Christmases are meaningful for myself and G., my daughters and for their daughters, at least that’s how it appears, year after year. I was just sitting here thinking that I might cut out half the ornaments and garlands that I usually put on the tree this year.

And you know what? I’ll bet you can’t even tell.