gunstream girl

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

I'm a Southerner, born and bred (though you'd never know it from my accent, I'm told). I like to eat 'til I'm tired out from eating, hear good storytelling 'til I can recite the stories in my sleep (Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can't remember who we are or why we're here.), watch people, look at sparkly things, listen to good bluegrass music, dream about owning a dog, tell crazy stories about my family, and organize things.

28 November 2005

Christmastime is Here

I read through Troy's post about Thankschristmas over the weekend. He mulled over the idea of when the holiday season actually started and when it was actually necessary to put up the decorations. It stirred up my holiday spirit.

I really struggle with the season beginning the day after Thanksgiving.

The first day of the holiday season for me is right around Christmas Eve...partially because I want the season to be special, partially because of our upbringing (a combination of procrastination and practicality prevented our decorations from going up...why go to the trouble of putting up a bunch of nonsense when you've just got to take it down in a week's time)...

But there's something to be said for a house that's been transformed for the holiday season. Anything covered in sparkles and lights and baubles is much more apt to ignite a feeling of wonder and delight and promise...a feeling that Good things must surely be around the corner.

For many years Christmas decorations at the McClains seemed to consist of a tree, the nativity set, and Mom's lightup ceramic Christmas tree (like a green ceramic Lite Brite). I remember thinking it was such an honor to set up the nativity...and oh the painstaking placement of the characters! Should the shepherds be in the barn or outside? The wise men...should they form a trail leading into the barn since they came from afar? What about Mary and Joseph? And baby Jesus--front and center or in the corner? Should we mix it up a little from last year?

Though we have established several Christmas traditions, the Christmas tree is perhaps the most vivid. A close second would have to be the Christmas Story in the barn, but I feel sure that that description is substantial enough for another post. Other Christmas memories...Sandra Clark and Chuck and David shooting down misteltoe from the treetops with rifles and then David or Chuck backing over Sandra with the truck...or maybe she was the one that backed over one of them? (If you didn't catch it before, the interesting part of that story is not who backed over who with the pickup truck, which is certainly very interesting, but very simply that we used rifles to acquire Christmas decorations.)

Re: the Christmas tree, the acquisition of the tree stands out in my mind more than the final gleaming glory.

Not all of us, but a handful of kids and Dad would traipse down the fencerow for the perfect tree. Sometimes we'd bundle up and walk up to the orchards, sometimes we'd drive up there. If we were really lucky, Dad would let us steer the truck or tractor while he worked the pedals. After what seemed like hours of inspection, we'd all agree upon a tree that seemed most perfect for us that year. Out would come the chainsaw. Hack, hack, hack, throw it on the back...of the tractor. Drag it through the (usually damp) pasture to the house. After warming up with hot drinks, we'd have to go hose off the tree and get it shaped up to fit through the front door.

Hose off the tree, you might be thinking? Yes. It seems that we had an uncanny ability to dredge our evergreen wonder in every fresh cowpile in the pasture on the drag home. The smell of fresh evergreen was usually the only fragrance that was welcomed from the great outdoors come christmastime. High standards have we? Maybe.

We'd lop away at its stem for a couple of hours and level it solidly with wood scraps into a 5-gallon feedbucket (no tilt, y'see).

We'd also have to cinch up the chandelier in order to make room for the tree....this is no small feat that is working with a two-story foyer, a rickety ladder, and family suffering from a terrible fear of heights.

Dripping and beautiful our tree lived front and center in our foyer.

It was breathtaking.

Literally and figuratively.

We adorned it with homemade felt and glitter decorations and topped it with a star that Dad traced from a KFC box and covered with aluminum foil years ago when Mom and Dad first married (b/c there was no money for ornaments).


And well worth the wait.......the promise of gifts, the fragrance of the season, the twinkling of hope for a new year...what delight!

Now I look at the glitz and glimmer of the season that appears even before we've digested our Thanksgiving feast.....

...and I wish for a time when things were simpler and each and every one of us wished and prayed for a dung-covered tree.

22 November 2005

Lady Winter

Snow and sleet are falling
Dusting everything in its path a pristine white
It's so brilliant and gray at the same time...
It hurts my eyes
I turn inward
Preparing to brace Winter's cold.