Wednesday, December 2, 2009

'Tis the season!

I have felt like a scrooge this year as the holidays fast approach. It's just been a chore to try to muster up any holiday spirit. This is extremely unusual for me, who usually drives myself crazy with Christmas cheer! Yes, I am one of those annoying people who coordinates wrapping paper and spends way too much time tying on bows and curling ribbon, and even goes to the extreme to make my own gift tags. No easy stick-ons for me! Not this year. I have minimal shopping done, have no ideas for what I am getting people on my list, and was thinking of just using gift bags instead of bothering with wrapping paper...the ultimate sacrilege!! So I forced myself to drag out the tree from storage today and lugged up the container of ornaments.

I have realized one thing in doing all of this: decorating a Christmas tree is truly an art! Do you realize this? If you have an artificial, pre-lit tree like me (even though I think real trees are way better), you have to test the lights. Are all of them lighting? Of course most of mine were not lit this year! Just par for the course. My hubby managed to get all of the lights on again minus two full strands that refused to cooperate. This took about an hour or so. And luckily the two strands are both at the bottom of the tree and scattered so they are really not that noticeable.

Then the garland has to be strung. I have trouble with this every year! I always end up having to tighten the garland in order to get it to cover from top to bottom. That means making the really annoying and very inconvenient circle around the tree, which is crammed into the only corner of the family room big enough to house it through the holiday season. I have to make sure there is equal room between layers of garland, otherwise the whole tree looks unbalanced. There is another 30-45 minutes.

The next step is to add the Christmas balls to the tree. I choose to use red each year because I think they ground the tree. Who really cares if the tree is grounded though, right? And my mom passed some Christmas balls on to me as well, so those have to go up after the red balls. This seems very important to make sure that the Christmas balls go up on the tree first. Come to think of it, I remember my mom always doing the same thing. She taught me to use the balls as filler and to tuck them deeper into the branches. Because really, you want people to notice the ornaments, not necessarily the balls on the tree, right?

After the lights have been checked, the garland is up and the Christmas balls are arranged, I can begin hanging my ornaments. I group a lot of mine. Parts of a series get put together, as do all picture ornaments. I have so many of the kids and our family throughout the years that it is fun to keep them close to each other so I can see how much the kids have grown. My favorite ornaments make it toward the top of the tree to avoid little hands, and those that I have less of an attachment to (and would not mind being broken) get hung on lower branches. This part of decorating takes forever, primarily because each ornament is kept in its original box and bubble wrap, etc. I know, I know: OCD! (Are you just now realizing this?)

Any ribbon gets strung on the tree next. This has to be done well so that it does not look like it was an afterthought. The ribbon has to be woven and twisted in between branches and still look natural. Again, just like the garland, there has to be even spacing between each row of ribbon. It just looks better. I actually doubled my ribbon this year. Red and silver. I used more silver and then scattered some red in there.

And to top it all off (literally), is the tree topper: an angel, star, etc. All personal preference. I use an angel. Voila! The tree is trimmed! Or decorated. Or whatever.

Am I the only one who makes setting up the Christmas tree such a process? Other than my mom? Sometimes I wonder. And worry. About myself, I mean. But you know, going through my OCD-driven process is part of Christmas. It actually helped me kick off the Christmas season in a most unscroogy way! I guess it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas...