Monday, December 24, 2012

Vision of sugar plums unite generations with holiday traditions

Rachel executes "Christmas is Everywhere" 

We are busy this morning doing all the last-minute preparations for our big family gathering here tonight including putting out the seasonal guest towels and lighting the scented candles. But, the rest of the house has been in full-on holiday decor since Thanksgiving, when my daughter, Rachel, declared our theme this year would be "Christmas is everywhere".

And, Christmas is everywhere:  on our mantle, shelves, banisters and most importantly, in our hearts and with family and friends - even if they are no longer here. We stay connected with them through memories, traditions, and in our case, sugar plums and candy cane decorations.

When I was twelve my mom unceremoniously moved Christmas downstairs. I have three older brothers - who at this time were all in their teens - and our small living room just couldn't accommodate six people, their guests and a Christmas tree. My parents had remodeled our basement five years prior and it was really nice - and spacious. So, we moved the tree and all the trimmings to our lower level family room and plugged in the fake fireplace (it was the 70's, mind you) and we were ready to go.

It was almost ideal except my dad felt that our  living room - where we spent most of our evenings after dinner - was void of the Christmas spirit. So, without any consult, he went to Sears one day after work and bought a small artificial tree and a couple dozen ornaments. The decorations were made to look like sugar-frosted candies -  mostly sugar plums and candy canes - all in pastel colors. They looked delicious.
Frosted sugar plums and candy canes still decorate the tree

My dad set the tree up on the television - which was a piece of furniture in those days - and had it all trimmed by the time my mom came home from work. I was so excited. Christmas, at least in small way, had made its way back upstairs where we could see it every time we walked through the front door.

My mom's reaction was, well, a little more delayed in acceptance, but my dad's strategy - at least this time - of better to ask for forgiveness than permission - paid off. The four foot tree filled with bubble-gum pink and lime-green candy canes slowly won her over and the tree was allowed to stay.

My dad passed away ten years later and although we no longer put the tree upstairs, we kept the ornaments and eventually, I got custody of them when I moved out and married. I have put those same ornaments on my tree for the past 29 years and, lost in my thoughts, I apparently tell this same story to Rachel every year she's been assisting me.

This year, however, I got another surprise - and a great one at that. As we were waiting for our chai tea to steep and hauling out the decorations from the basement,   Rachel asked me to tell the story about the tree and the ornaments the grandfather she never met brought home one December afternoon. She declared that those frosted ornaments would belong to her when she gets her own home.

And, so they will.

“Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. . .

The house was filled with “Christmas Everywheres”,
while visions of sugar plums were deemed soon to be theirs

And we'd like to  exclaim, before we turn out the lights,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

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