Sunday, December 3, 2017

Christmas Decorating: the Nostalgia Factor

It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon in December, warm enough for just a sweater -- at odds with the Christmas music playing in the background and the twinkly lights on the fully decorated tree. But no complaining from this corner! I'd be happy if we get a light dusting of snow on Christmas Eve and then nothing for the remainder of winter. Other than Christmas and soup and fires in the fireplace, I'm not a big fan of this season.
So let's go back to that fully decorated tree... Ivan and I had a bit of a disagreement about when we'd last had a tree. This little ole blog came in handy, as I looked back through, and found we never put up our big tree in the casita, as I asserted and he disputed. We had, however, set it up in Sta. Rosa one year. But I determined it was too much work to decorate, enjoy for five days, and then have to take it back down, so that was that.

Christmas trees make me inordinately happy. And I think I may know why: according to scientists, decorating for the holidays can "create that neurological shift that can produce happiness... Christmas decorating will spike dopamine, a feel-good hormone." Nostalgia is a powerful force, my friend. Happy memories from childhood will make you want to recreate those same feelings, and I think that's definitely true in my case.

My mom made a big deal out of Christmas. (Well, actually, mom made a pretty big deal out of most holidays.) No doubt I get my love of over-the-top holiday decorating from her... no such thing as too much tinsel!... and I still remember how giddy she got when they came out with spray snow in a can.

Moving to Argentina, I downsized from probably ten big bins of Christmas decorations to two. TWO! And when we returned to the U.S. last year, that was further reduced to my most precious ornaments, the nativity set we bought our last year in Argentina and nothing else. I honestly thought I'd also also brought back our tree topper, the lovely wooden nativity from Betty in Paraguay, and the beautiful handmade tree skirt a dear friend made for me, but they are M.I.A., so I must have been wrong. I cannot believe I left that nativity! What's weird is I have the base for it, but the nativity itself is missing. We still have two suitcases waiting to be brought to the states for us, so maybe they're in one of those. I can only hope!

All that to say: we're pretty much starting from scratch here. I picked up our tree a couple weeks ago at the Mennonite thrift store in Goshen. Last year they had dozens and I filed that in my memory bank for this year and stalked the store until they were set out. Wow! There are some really ginormous fake trees! I was working within the constraints of a small space and low ceilings, so had to bypass the majority of trees in my search for one that would fit. My choice is no Charlie Brown tree, but it's also not one of those ceiling scrapers you see in McMansions either. Rather like Goldilocks, I feel my tree is "just right".

Besides those precious ornaments I toted back, I filled in the tree with unbreakable silver and red ornaments picked up last year during the after Christmas sales. Since I'm not about to pay the exorbitant prices they're charging for tree skirts -- even at Walmart! -- and I don't have time to make one, for now a long piece of red cotton fabric is wrapped around the bottom of the tree in loosey goosey fashion. And in lieu of a topper, I conscripted a large angel ornament to fill that spot this year. Our Argentine nativity graces the mantel.
And can we just talk about the mantel? I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. An honest-to-goodness mantel you can hang stockings on! Alas I'm too cheap to buy anything to decorate it. LOL  Plus I'm having major DMD about what I even want. Glitz and glamor? Homespun holiday? International flair? So for now the nativity shares space with what was already up there. Blah, I know. But it's just the beginning of December so maybe inspiration will hit and I'll figure out what I want to do while there's still time. Or not. Vamos a ver.

Meanwhile I thought I'd share some pictures of my tree. I told Ivan I was keeping it up until February, to make up for all the years I didn't have one :) What do you think? I could decorate it with blue and silver balls for January, then red and silver in February. Isn't that a marvelous idea?! Happy twinkly lights for three months. Might even help me get through the winter. 
Isn't this ornament adorable? My sister sent this to me in Argentina a few years ago. Of course I couldn't bring my pretty Ice blue KitchenAid mixer back to the states with me, but I could bring this ornament. (And my sister gifted me a new Ice blue KitchenAid mixer as a housewarming gift this summer!)
I love these two ornaments, grandson Simon on the left and son Jon on the right. Aren't they adorable?!
Thirty years ago we were living in Florida and my "secret pal" in the lady's group made two beautiful silk poinsettias for my Christmas gift. The wires on the white one rusted over time and I ended up having to throw it away, but this red one is still (somewhat) holding up. The wire is starting to come loose from the leaves, so I need to figure a way to fix that. Ideas?
 Have you decorated for the holidays yet? Did it made you happy? How did your childhood Christmases influence how you celebrate today? 


Mari said...

This is interesting and I agree. Decorating makes me happy too, and it brings back memories of childhood and decorating the tree, but also of doing it when my kids were little.
We have a new tree this year. I had gotten a smaller tree because I was sick of the big one, but it was too little. Now we have one that's skinnier but about 5 1/2 feet tall, and in the pot it's about 6 feet. I had such fun decorating it and I think it looks really nice!
I like your ornaments and I must admit to being a bit jealous of a mantle!

The Bug said...

This must be why Mike has been in a decorating frenzy - if it's stationary, it's decorated! I must say that it has helped make him feel better about our crazy life right now.

I wish you lived nearby - we used to put up a 7 foot tree, but haven't lived anywhere with enough space for one in 20 years. But I still have every ornament we've ever gotten. You could just "shop" in our Christmas closet :)

rita said...

No, I have not decorated yet. You are inspiring me. Iam hoping to being after grades are in tomorrow and Tuesday.
Love all your Christmas cheer. Thank you!

Betty W said...

Awe, hope you find the rest of that nativity set. Or I can send you a new one.
I´m glad you finally got to put up a Christmas tree this year. I think what the scientist write about decorations producing happiness could be true. I FINALLY put mine up and now I actually am looking forward to Christmas. I wrote about that elusive Christmas feeling in my last post...