How's Your Ornament Hangin'


Sorry if I seem to go on and on about Christmas. But it’s not as if you can ignore it. Driving into my neighborhood, you’d think you were on your way to Santa’s Land of Gumdrops ‘n Double Mocha Frappaccinos. Even the Liquor Barn and H&R Block are festive.

This week we put up our tree. Decorating the Christmas tree is always an event and one that takes longer and longer each year. We keep adding ornaments and never would dare to throw one away. We just keep gluing heads on, reglittering, retinseling, and popping antlers back on. God forbid we celebrate the Lord’s birth without the Santa in a Chaise Lounge Wearing a Cleveland Browns Shirt from Christmas 1989.

We all have our favorite ornaments that we have to put on the tree. My oldest son always gets to hang Iciclina and Spike, the lesbian lover ornaments. Interesting story about these two - they did not come together. No, they were each separate gifts, but since they both have icicle-like protrusions instead of legs, we decided they needed to hang out together on the tree. My son thought one was a boy and one a girl, so he made up a story about a love affair between them. Then a couple years ago, he looked closely at Spike and saw that although she has a short haircut, she’s a girl! Being progressive types, we kept them together anyway. Now we just watch closely so they don’t corrupt the Irish step dancing couple who hangs nearby. (They’re conservative Catholics.)

My middle son likes to hang all the ornaments he made in kindergarten. One is a 10-by-10 sheet of poster board cut into a Christmas tree shape covered with elbow macaroni and sprayed gold, with his school picture glued onto the center. We hang that one on the lowest branch, yet it still threatens to bring down the whole enchilada.

My daughter claims all the rest of the ornaments are hers and that she always hangs them, including the ones we’ve had since before she was born and the construction paper mitten that says “Travis” on the back. We don’t remember who Travis is, but he was a crafty little bugger; he colors in the lines and uses a nice mint instead of your traditional forest green.  My real son has made up a story about Travis being a secret love child of mine, his long-lost brother who was with us just long enough to decorate an ornament for our tree.

Our ornament collection has come a long way since the first year I was married. We had a tree about 16 inches high that made Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree look like the White House pick. We trimmed it with four ornaments and the little lacy rice bags that we had passed out at our wedding. The only other things on the tree were whatever we tried to basketball-shoot into the kitchen garbage can but stuck to the branches on its way. So there were a couple orange rinds on there, which I just saw in Martha Stewart last month. So we were way ahead of our time.

Our tree now is full of personality, I like to say. Actually, it’s full of personalities plural. We’ve got clean-shaven Santas, angels without wings, and reindeer without antlers (which makes them goats). Even the inanimate objects have personalities, thanks to my son’s childhood habit of making everything into something with a soul. At Christmas time, he would leave Mr. Ketchup, Mustardy and Fork-Fork and concentrate on the soap opera lives of our ornaments and other decorations. He almost had us convinced to leave the Christmas stuff out all year, but my husband thought we’d all get excommunicated when the Baby Jesus was kidnapped by Garfield and a Polar Bear, who left Mary tied up in the stable and was negotiating a ransom with one of the three Wise Men.

So we pack the whole freak show into boxes every January, carefully wrapping each ornament and making sure that all the married or seriously dating couples are wrapped together.

It’s three long seasons in the basement. Anything could happen.