Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Adventures in Setting up for Christmas

Setting up for Christmas at the Park home is always an adventure, especially with infants and young children. First we retrieve our artificial, prelit, 7½-foot pine tree from storage along with all the other boxes containing Christmas decorations. From lights and ornaments to stockings and various Christmas statues, it all gets piled into the living room and deboxed. We place a Christmas CD into the stereo and commence playing jolly holiday tunes. The tree is pulled from its coffin, the misshapen branches mashed and bent at odd angles from its year long rest in the box. It takes a good 30 minutes to place the three pieces of the tree together, straighten the branches to give it some semblance of a real tree, and connect the outlets and cords in the right order so that all the lights come on at once.

We allow our 4 and 7-year-old girls to hang the ornaments on the outstretched limbs. The only stipulation this year: The ornaments must start at least three feet up to prevent our 1-year-old from pulling them off and destroying them as only a curious tot could do with a slobbery mouth, tiny pulling fingers and little stomping feet. This leaves the entire bottom portion of the tree bare. The tree is invariably decorated more on one side than the other, but as the task was given to the kids, I don’t interfere or correct the peculiar spacing. Though the snowflake ornaments lose a pound of glitter to my floor each year, they never seem to run out of the sparkly particles. I vacuum the floor three times before giving up on removing every bit from my carpet.

The nativity scene is strategically placed above the entertainment center, reminding us of the true reason for the season, the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Other statues and holiday d├ęcor are also set around the living room, kitchen and dining area.

My husband heads up the construction of the train tracks around the base of the tree, propping the branches up so the battery-operated Thomas, Arthur and Rosie tank engines won’t derail when passing underneath. The tracks don’t last five minutes in their completed state, however, as they succumb to the crawling infant’s inquisitive touch. We allow her to have her fun, and then rebuild the tracks after she goes down for a nap. I fear, however, that this pattern of destruction and rebuilding will be a daily ritual for the next five weeks.

The final touch of Christmas in our home is in the dividing up of the bag of cinnamon scented pine cones around the house. Knowing the cinnamon oil on the cones is strongest when warmed, we lift the heating vent covers upstairs and place two pine cones in each vent. Downstairs we hang a cone beneath each ceiling vent. As expected, the spicy aroma of cinnamon wafts through the house each time the thermostat signals the air to turn on, creating a truly festive atmosphere.

I never look forward to the work involved in setting up for the holidays, but seeing the finished product after its done, I always feel joyful as I anticipate another merry Christmas.

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