Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Spirit



I admit it. I have an excess of Christmas spirit. I go a little overboard with the decorations this time of year. My obsession stems from childhood Christmases, or rather, lack thereof. Growing up, we didn't celebrate Christmas the "traditional" way, the "American" way. Our family never had a tree, we didn't get presents, and my sister and I didn't understand why all the kids at school were fussing about Santa and his elves.

The concept of bringing a giant tree into your house that would eventually have to be disposed of was foreign to my parents, and they certainly weren't about to pay for that to happen! However...there was one exception. The one and only time our family had a tree was in 1995. I was fifteen and it was 2 days before Christmas. My family and I were doing some last minute grocery shopping and as we were driving out of the parking lot, we spotted a sign: "Free Trees". There were a handful of charlie brown trees propped against the fence so we made my dad stop and then begged him to let us take one home. It was free, we argued. And... after all, it was Christmas. He eventually caved. Ironically, my dad had picked up a christmas tree stand from a neighbor's garage sale a few years earlier (WHY, I have no idea!!) so we were set there. Howbeit, we didn't own a single ornament to hang on our new tree, save for a few tiny wooden ones my sister and I made in grade school. So...the next morning, we got up early and drove to Target and bought several boxes of silver balls, lights, some tinsel, and a star for the top. The selection was slim pickens as it was Christmas Eve and all. Then we raced home and trimmed our tree while listening to the 'Home Alone' soundtrack (also our favorite Christmas movie). It didn't take us long as we only had enough ornaments to decorate the "front" of the tree. But were we ever proud! We made sure to position it in the biggest living room window so everyone who drove by could see it. And when friends came over, we would make a point of showing off our beautiful tree but make it seem like it was no big deal... like we were just your typical Asian American family who always had a tree at Christmas time.

We were certain that this would spur the beginning of many christmas trees to come, but sadly, that was the first and last tree we ever had. The entire two weeks that tree was in our house, my mom complained every day about the needles dropping and how she had to get the vacuum out unnecessarily. And how sad it was to watch this tree wither away and die. Needless to say, our christmas spirit was pretty much deflated after that year. I learned to appreciate the fact that we were just different from other families and while we didn't exchange gifts, or decorate our home, we always got a good chunk of cash to spend on whatever we wanted.

It was a good 10 years later before my Christmas spirit returned. I was 25 and had just purchased my first house. My co-worker at the time had just purchased her first condo as well and we were both lamenting the fact that neither of us had any Christmas decorations for our new homes. So...a week before Thanksgiving, we met up and went on a small shopping spree. We stocked up on everything you could imagine. Ornaments galore. Ribbons, bows, garlands, wreaths...We could barely fit all our new treasures in the car! The morning after Thanksgiving, Scott and I raced down the hill to pick out our first tree together. It was pouring rain but we didn't care. We walked around and carefully examined each tree, and then forked over $95 for what we thought was the perfect Noble Fir. When we got home, we realized we had overestimated the size of our house and underestimated the size of the tree. It was 7 feet tall alright, but also about 7 feet WIDE. Huh...it didn't look that big sitting out in the open field. We would have to make a mental note for next year.

Nevertheless, my house looked gorgeous with all the decorations and I was overjoyed. I finally got to participate in the traditions I had only heard about growing up. I was eager to share these traditions with my kids, when that time came. I wanted my kids to be as excited and giddy about Christmas the way I was at age 25. That may be a little old to have your first real Christmas, but certainly never too late.

Hung by the chimney with care...

My treasured Christmas Village.

Can you spot the birds hanging out in my feather tree?

I think I would like to live here.

Santa is watching you....

A collection of "Snow Babies" that I inherited from a dear friend. It makes washing the dishes more enjoyable :)

These are just some leftover ornaments that I combined with a string of lights.