Funny thing… I get all of Melanie’s other posts, but I don’t seem to get her Share Your World ones… Anyway…
What is your least favorite holiday side dish? Three words: Green. Bean. Casserole.
What is the ugliest or most tasteless decoration you’ve ever seen? I love tasteless decorations, the tackier the better. My favorite, by far, is one I call "Santa Whiz"…
What is a cherished or unusual (either or both) family tradition from your childhood? We usually put up the tree and decorated it a couple of weeks before Christmas, and Mom would put all the Christmas records she had, and that was A LOT of records, on the stereo. I think they played almost constantly through the Epiphany. She had this entire set of records by the Longines Symphonette Society (that I think my stepdad took out of the chamber of a deceased Jesuit). There were several, and I think this was one of them (for sometime when you have over two hours to listen)…
Reminds me of the story about our first Christmas tree in our home in Northfield…
When we lived on Glenwood Avenue, we had an apartment with a twelve-foot ceiling, so we were accustomed to having an enormous tree that took up the entire sun parlor. Naturally, we would tie that tree into place with fishing line to keep it from falling over.
When we moved to Northfield, though, the ceiling was eight feet high and there was nowhere near enough room to fit a tree the size of the ones we were accustomed to. Mom, feeling a good deal of buyer’s remorse, was nonetheless determined that this tree would be as magnificent as the others had been.
We bought the largest Christmas tree that we could, and Tex, the man who would later marry Mom, and the three of us guided the tree into the house, stood it up in the corner, and carefully arranged it in the base. After turning it several times until Mom was satisfied that the best side was facing front, he tightened the thumbscrews that held it in the base.
My mother was looking at it while we went and got the ornaments and lights from the attic. “Jack, I think the tree is leaning. Don’t you think we ought to tie it up?”
“It’ll be fine, Bunny,” he said for the first of several times.
So we began decorating. Remember, we were stocked up with enough ornaments and lights to decorate a tree twice the size of the one we had, but Mom wanted to be sure that all of the special ornaments that she had accumulated since her and Dad’s first tree were prominently displayed on the current masterpiece. The longer we went, the more concerned Mom became that the tree would come crashing down at any moment. Tex, of course, tried as patiently as he could to explain that the tree was fine, it was balanced properly and supported by a large tree stand.
Eventually, we had decorated the tree, and Mom was either convinced that the tree was not going to fall or she was tired of arguing the issue with Tex. We plugged it in, and it was magnificent. Not quite on the level of magnificent as our last several trees on Glenwood Avenue, but close enough for the house that we had.
After all of the boxes were put away, we all drifted to our places in the house. I was in my room with the stereo going, Jim and Kip were in their room, Mom was on the back porch watching TV, Tex was cooking, and Mom’s aunt Cash was sitting in the living room in the big chair, which was famous for lulling its occupants to sleep. She was half awake when she saw the tree start to lean forward….
I was in my room and heard the sound of something about the size of a Christmas tree falling on a parquet floor and the sound of breaking glass that might or might not have been ornaments and lights breaking into a thousand pieces. I came out of my room to the sound of my mother saying, “I told you we should have tied the tree up!”
Tex had stormed out the door to go for a walk at that point, so Jim and Kip managed to get the tree back upright, and Mom told me to get the vacuum and get all of the glass off of the floor.
The whole thing, naturally, struck me as incredibly funny, and when Mom came into the living room to see how I was doing, I turned and sang “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”
The song became an anthem of sorts after that.
You’re walking down the street, feeling great — what holiday song would be playing in the background? What else?
Wish Someone A Happy Holiday! Merry Christmas, Festivus, Kwanzaa, Chanukah (retroactively), or whatever holiday you’re celebrating, and Happy New Year! Take us home, Vince Guaraldi…