"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Monday, December 5, 2011

Oh, what a Christmas to have the blues

It took me a solid day, but I have all the Christmas decorations out and up - almost. I still have to put the reindeer in the front windows, but I can't find the sucky-things with hooks to put them up. Most years, I wander around looking for them, give up in frustration and go out and buy more. Somewhere in my house, there are thirty sucky-thingies, not sucking.

This is not the first year I've put the decorations up by myself. Dale covers the outside lights and I do the inside. Marcus was never much for decorating anything. It wasn't that he was unhelpful; he just became too pre-occupied with sorting and counting the ornaments to actually hang them on the tree. Last year, he was still away at school (okay, away as in 20 minutes away), just like this year.

But this year I feel the emptiness.

Last Christmas, Marcus helped me take the ornaments off the tree. As we took each little figure and ball from the tree to the table, where I'd box them eventually, I pointed out the ornaments that were either made by him or about him. You know, Baby's First Christmas, etc.

"One day you'll have your own place and your own tree," I said. "And these are all yours."

He looked at the assortment of bears and balls and bells. "Nah, that's okay."

"Are there others you'd like instead?"

"Not really."

That's when I found that my son was not sentimental about any of our Christmas stuff. I don't suppose it surprised me. Boys aren't usually wired to be sentimental. It was okay.

Until this year, when I looked at all the boxes of shiny doodads and thought, it's the end of the line for you.

When I am gone, no one will care about the first ornament I ever got, from the mother of my first boyfriend in kindergarten. She was not an educated woman. Their family was, along with ours, on the low end of the middle class. I say this because you may notice that the G in Gayle is upside down. It's endearing to me, that this kind, lovely woman did her best to give me something nice.

No one will care about the angel that my friend LaLa made for me, or the one my friend's mom handpainted for me. No one will want to keep the silk corsage Dotty Trapp gave me after going to the Glory of Christmas and seeing me fly. Marcus will probably not even put up a tree, much less pack each branch with ornaments like his lunatic mother. (You might have noticed, in these pictures, a certain lack of theme and attention to chaos.)

It's enough to make me melancholy, but I rallied and reached for a glass of wine. Then I called and w(h)ined to my friend Michele. We decided that I'd put a condition in my will, where my son would have to put my decorations up every year or forfeit his inheritance.

But in case he doesn't, I thought I'd spend a little time posting every day, or every other day, about some of the decorations around our house and what they've come to mean to me. Some of them, like the corsage, are kind of poignant. I worked for both Dotty and her husband, Bob, for years at Hughes. She died of cancer, too young, too soon, and there's still a part of me that feels the loss.

Some of them are funny, like the handpainted angel that my friend Judith kept making her mom do over because she kept getting the hair wrong. The hair ended up pink, but I didn't mind. It's the cutest little porcelain angel, and I love the little feet under her gown.

I even have a creepy ornament, sort of. I worked with a woman who thoroughly hated my guts, as well as the other parts of me, I'm sure. She felt she deserved the promotion that I got (and earned, thank you very much), and couldn't stand it when she had to work for me. That year, she handmade ornaments for everyone on our team. It was weird, but I could almost feel the venom in that piece of glass. I think I "lost" that ornament, but since Dale worked with her, too, I put his ornament on the tree. It wasn't tainted.

Do you have any decorations with stories, or histories? I'd love to hear them.

1 comment:

Tameri Etherton said...

Ah, Gayle, I feel for you! When they grow up and move on to a new life, it's so hard. Don't give up on Marcus ~ he might not be sentimental now, but when he gets a wife and children of his own, then maybe he'll appreciate all your mementos.

Out of two, I have one that shares my love of all things Christmas, but I have hope for the other one. ; )

Merry Christmas, my friend. If you ever need to share a cup of eggnog (spiced, of course), or need another gal pal to share your woes, call me!

Proud Member of ALA!

I support fair and equitable library access to ebooks and so should you.