Decking the halls
I’m grinning sheepishly as I write today, because I have a confession to make. Last week, I wrote about how the Christmas carol “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” had inspired me to embrace a certain degree of simplicity this holiday season.
I didn’t exactly lie to you guys — at the moment I did feel inspired to celebrate a minimalist Christmas. I hadn’t put much effort into decorating the house, and keeping things simple felt like a logical, deeply spiritual thing to do.
But when I started digging through the boxes of decorations and saw the gorgeous stuff I bought last year but had already forgotten about, my inner Martha Stewart resurfaced with a vengeance. And I spent every free hour last week jazzing up our house for the holidays.
Anyone heard of a Christmas Decorator’s Anonymous group nearby? Because I might ought to join. I see tinsel and garland and little sparkling lights and I just can’t help myself. The world is my canvas and I get a little crazy decking the halls and anything else that will stand still long enough to be embellished.
My father-in-law, Don, is as bad as I am. His house was elaborately decorated by Thanksgiving, and he owns so many giant inflatable yard ornaments that he shared his bounty with us.
Last week, our outdoor Christmas décor consisted of one teensy elf standing alone on the front porch. This week, you have to strain your eyes to find the elf, because he is dwarfed by the Santas, snowmen and Christmas trees sharing the porch with him.
We have brightly colored lights along the roofline, and two six-foot-tall inflatable snow globes on the lawn. One has a moving carousel inside, and the other blows fake snow around the snowmen within the globe. Big inflatable words are set up beside each snow globe: “Noel” and “Joy.”
And despite all of that, I’m upset that my hubby didn’t get around to putting lights around the windows. We’re already the brightest, craziest-decorated house in the neighborhood. Georgia Power is going to love us when our December bill comes due. But I still fret over that final missing detail. If I weren’t terrified of ladders and heights, I’d climb up there and trim the windows myself.
And my obsession with detail is extending to the kitchen. I wasn’t going to make all of my traditional goodies this year — you know, that simplicity thing again. But today I told some friends about my peppermint bark. It’s an amazing recipe; loaded with Andes mints and Bob’s soft sugar candy canes, all crushed up in white chocolate. So of course I have to make a batch for them, and it’s just as easy to double the recipe. And the bark would be all lonely given by itself, so I must do the fudge and the cracker candy, the haystacks and the fancy dipped pretzel rods. And it wouldn’t feel like Christmas if I didn’t host another gingerbread house party because the kids had so much fun at ours last year. Who am I kidding? The children enjoyed themselves, but I had a blast! I’d never made a gingerbread house before, and I cannot wait to make another one. Or two. Or ten. And a whole little gingerbread family — with a ginger cat and a ginger dog and a ginger car and somebody please stop me before I design an entire gingerbread city.
I guess that while the idea of simplicity sounds appealing, it’s just not who I am. Sometimes I grumble that everyone expects all of this creativity out of me during the holidays, but I have to be honest with myself and face up to what shines back at me in the mirror. I’m a creator at heart, and few occasions provide more of an outlet for those energies than Christmas.
Maybe simplicity isn’t an option for someone like me, because it would mean neglecting the very gifts I was given upon my creation. Maybe I’m more connected with my faith at the holidays when I spread a little joy to the world by making things fun and pretty? Maybe, just maybe, it’s OK to be a little Christmas crazy.