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  Updated 1-2-08




























It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

By Angela Gillaspie 

I've finally disposed of the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers. My poor family has endured a week of turkey tetrazzini, turkey salad, turkey omelets, turkey meatloaf, turkey enchiladas, turkey potpie, turkey parmesan, turkey on toast, turkey ala mode, and peanut butter and turkey sandwiches.

As I tossed the last of the turkey in the garbage, my three children informed me that all of our neighbors had their Christmas wreathes, swags, and lights up, fake reindeer out, and "Santa Stop Here" signs staked in their yards. "No fair!" my babies collectively whined.

The pressure to decorate is immense, but I won't give in until the week or so after Thanksgiving since I like to celebrate one holiday at a time. My kids' constant nagging and bewailing about the embarrassment of having no Christmas lights on our house and Mommy and Daddy's lack of Christmas cheer tend to wear me down. Needless to say, this weekend we will begin our annual holiday decorating ritual.

Just like every year, the festivities will start when I grab my clippers and attack my boxwood and holly bushes with a vengeance. I cannot have a fake wreath on my front door, oh nooo. I must make a wreath and a swag for the mailbox and fireplace mantle. Why do I go to this trouble? Because it is prettier than fake stuff, it matches my other decorations, it's cheap, and best of all, no one else in my neighborhood has "real" swags and wreathes adorning their homes. I get this perverse sense of one-upmanship when I stand back and proudly view my work (and the pools of blood, bits of skin, and pieces of fingernails).

Despite my delirium over natural greenery, I usually allow my husband to hang fake garland on the front two columns, only because I lost four knuckles and I ran out of florist wire and clippings.

For decorating the inside, the major item is obviously the Christmas tree. First, my husband will untangle the lights, then carefully inspect each bulb on each strand, cursing under his breath all the while. When he is finished, he goes in the bedroom to watch a football game so that he can calm his nerves with the regional championship games.

I will then turn on Brenda Lee's Christmas tunes, and the kids and I sing along while I hang the multi-colored lights on the tree with my wrapped and wounded fingers.

When my dear husband has calmed enough, he will hike up to the attic to begin an archaeological dig around the layers of old clothing, Easter baskets, and high school memorabilia (circa 1979-1982) for our ornaments.

We open boxes, sneeze, and through the haze of attic dust we explain to our children what is expected of them. "Take an ornament and carefully put it on the tree - make sure you do not put them all in one place, and don't lick the candy canes - they aren't real," we urge.

Without fail, they eagerly grab handfuls of ornaments and hang them all on the lower left side of the tree (while sneaking a lick of the candy canes). When all of the ornaments are placed, we turn off the overhead lights to admire our tree. Of course, there will be a strand of lights that do not work toward the top of the tree, which is no problem since my husband and I really enjoy UN-decorating and redecorating the tree - just for fun.

I agree with the Christmas carol that this is the most wonderful time of the year. There is more to Christmas than decorating our homes with blinking lights, wooden reindeer, and boughs of holly - it's a celebration of love. Love of family and friends, love of the miraculous birth, and love of not having turkey for dinner.

This time will go by fast, and I must slow down to savor each delectable moment that occurs. The fun times will be just as memorable as the crazy times. The way I survive is accepting the fact that things will go wrong - they have to - because if they didn't, I wouldn't have anything to write about.

Copyright 2000 Angela Gillespie

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