Sunday, December 8, 2013

Memories of Holidays Past and Hopes for Those to Come...

The Christmas season has always been one of my favorite times of the year. When I was much younger and before I was able to open my eyes to more of the world around me, I, like most people made a big deal of Christmas. The decorating, the shopping, the church services, the food, the parties, the wonder of it all. My family was HUGE on this time of year. We would all gather at my parents for Thanksgiving all the while knowing we would be at the ranch the entire weekend afterward so all the decorating could be done. And let me tell you, my Momma went ALL out when it came to spifying up her house for the season.

Inside, we put up her 7-foot pre-lit tree which was then covered with glass crystal ornaments, one for each branch or point.  She also LOVED those silver icicles and was very particular about how they went on the tree. After the tree was finished, we moved on to the mantle. She had a beautiful mantle piece she made herself that was used every year and the only variations might be the color of the ribbons she would sometimes change out, depending which color scheme she used that year. Stockings were hung (good thing it was a big fireplace and mantle, there were up to 12 stockings hanging in any given year).

We hung lighted garlands around the archway into the kitchen, decorated the built-in china hutch and buffet, and she even once or twice put a small tree in her master bathroom.

My job each year was to set up the Department 56 Dickens Christmas Village we began collecting sometime during the early 90's. I remember the first time we found these at Dillard's (Momma's FAVORITE department store, I think it was actually Diamond's at the time), we spent 2 solid hours in the Christmas decoration department that year and ended up bringing home 8 or 10 lighted buildings and a couple dozen or more accessories. At first, it was set up on top of the entertainment center and those first few years it fit just fine. But each year we added to it and pretty soon, Daddy had to put a 4x8 piece of plywood on top of the entertainment center for added space. This was my favorite part of helping Momma decorate the inside of her house. And probably the one thing I miss the most...

Meanwhile, while the women folk were doing the inside, the menfolk (somewhere I have a picture of my Daddy in his red long underwear and Levi jeans) were outside trimming branches off the mesquite trees and making sure the rocks around those trees were lined up proper and sometimes added another coat of white paint to them. Lights went up around the outside of the house, and at one time we even had a Santa, his sleigh with boxes we wrapped in colorful Christmas wrap (then stuck inside clear garbage bags in case of rain or snow. YES we got snow at the ranch. It is in the foothills of the Santa Rita mountain range), and two or maybe it was 4 reindeer up on the roof. My favorite decoration on the outside was hands down the luminaries we set on the edge of the deck and down the steps. We tried the traditional kind (brown paper bags, sand, and votive candles) one year, but Momma didn't like how fast the candles burned out. She found electric ones the next year and used those from then on out.

After the falling out I had with my family over stupid shit (in 1999) and subsequently moving to Mesa, AZ from Amado, I didn't get back to the ranch during the holidays and began my own traditions. One year I had the common (at the time) Southwestern decorations, red chili pepper lights and cowboy/western decorations. I used white icicle lights around the roof and balcony of the apartment we lived in at the time and wrapped colored lights around the handrail for our stairs. This apartment complex was cool in that each apartment had its own private entrance, no matter if you lived in an upper or lower unit, so I didn't have to worry about anyone damaging my decorations. I also bought 3 sets of the electric luminaries and put one on each step from our front door to the common sidewalk area.

When I divorced husband #4 and Jimmy & I got together, our first Christmas was wondrous. I *finally* had the Victorian decorations I had only dreamed about. Our condo was breathtakingly decorated from the front door to the enclosed patio (we were on the lower level at this time), the tree was in the corner where the 2 floor to ceiling windows were. Unfortunately, those decorations were left in AZ when we left there in 2002 and moved to Maryland. Ever since then I have felt like we have been struggling for everything we have accomplished. Don't get me wrong, I would NOT in any way change any of the things we have gone through, those challenges have made us much stronger as a couple and now as a family. Christmas or now Yule celebrations have been everything from buying our tree and decorations on Christmas eve to what we have been able to do for this year.

I am pretty crafty, and each year I have designed and then put together at least one wreath for the door. The second year we were in MD, I made 2 wreaths one for the front door and one for the door that went out to the common area of the building we lived in. This year I reworked the wreath I've used for the past 3 years, and I cannot begin to tell you how pleased I am with the way it came out. Yes, I have finally managed to get the shades of purple I have dreamed about for more years than I can say.

For Yule 2009, all of us (Jimmy, Tanya & myself) were working full-time jobs and we had a great Yule that year. I bought the tree we still use and decorated it up with red, white and silver. Since then it's gone through a few different color schemes, some borrowed, some hurriedly purchased. This year I found the ornaments and decorations I'd been sighing over at Kmart and put them on layaway as soon as I found them on the shelves. This color sells out faster than any of the others, so I knew if I wanted them this year, I'd better do something about it quick.

And finally, this year we have a fireplace! In every place I have ever lived (except for my parents home) I have never had my own fireplace. Can you even begin to imagine my excitement when I came to look at this house when I found it was available for rent? Two things sold me on this house and I knew I HAD to have it if there was any way possible. The first was the fireplace and the second the large soaking tub in the master bath. We haven't lit a fire yet, I'm kinda trying to wait til Jimmy an be home with us to share and enjoy the first one.

So, there you have a rather long and possibly boring post about my Holiday memories and dreams. I am so looking forward to building my own traditions, making more memories and sharing these with my kids and grandkids as the years go by... it's been a process to get here and I know without a shadow of a doubt I am richly blessed and I thank Goddess each and every day for all of them. The ones that are my family by birth, love, destiny, and choice as well as those who also make up the Tribe I have searched for all my life.