Getting Ready for Christmas
Most of our decorating energy and funds go toward keeping the shop current for a calendar of holidays. For February, the red and white colors dominate, with a checked tablecloth of hearts and stars, a carousel featuring cupid and hearts, and white Beanie Babies with Red Fleece sleeping bags, with a wooden heart shaped puzzle in pink and red that says I (heart) U. In the spring, a flowered table cloth on the main table holds carousels of sheep and pastel animals. March features greens, wooden shamrock coasters, a quilt of leprechauns (Snoopy and Woodstock) and green teddy bears. Whenever Easter arrives, in March, April or May, a bunny tablecloth will host a bunny carousel, bunny books, wooden calico-dressed bunnies and beanie baby bunnies. Then the patriotic months of April (Patriots Day) May (Memorial Day) June (Flag Day) and July (Independence Day) show flags and patriotic fabrics of red, white and blue, with beanie babies also showing the flags colors, and a carousel might have a small parade of flags and soldiers (that’s a work in progress, currently.) August has some puzzles and books on a bare table, languishing in the heat of the old barn, with the very old air conditioner running rarely if customers stop by. September and October see bright reds, with apples and vegetable fabric prints, and many books on the table. November is a month of fallen leaves and browns, and busy custom orders for people who are looking ahead for Christmas presents. Rick’s Rocking Motorcycles dominate the fall months in production while everything else waits. December is a flurry of replacing ornament stock and special orders. January is again a month to take stock and rest up, leaving the winter-cold barn alone while we do paperwork in the warmer house.
And the house itself? It is often said, and it is true, that it is always Christmas at our house. The nutcrackers and angels stay on the fireplace mantel all year, and the creche set up on a bookcase by a window. The candles in our windows are moved to bookcases just inside their respective windows until Thanksgiving night, when they are placed back on the windowsills and turned on. In recent years there has been no tree in the house, but the fiber optic one has been either on the porch or beside the driveway, where it is this year. But this year, I felt the need for a little more Christmas, and so we set up the smaller tree in the parlor, and I hung the Williamsburg brass commemorative ornaments I receive each year, and the crystal snowflakes that Trish brought home from Ireland years ago. A sparkly gold angel is at the top of the tree. When the tree comes down after Little Christmas (the twelfth day of Christmas, on January 6th,) those ornaments will go back to the windowpanes where they spend the rest of the year, and the crystal snowflakes will be tucked away in their tin until the next time we have an indoor tree.
There are many more Christmas ornaments tucked away in the attic: so many that my students gave me year by year, and those my own children made. The ornaments that Rick made for Trish through the years are in Maine on her tree, and Robbie’s are hung in the shop window all year long, until one day he may want them for a tree of his own. Somewhere up there is the old record player that we used to decorate with a green Styrofoam cone for a tree on the spindle and little elves dancing all around on the record platform covered in aluminum foil. We made do with what we could make ourselves for many years. Money was scarce in those early years, but Christmas spirit was never in short supply. Some day we’ll find those old treasures again, and they will help us to remember past Christmases.
Today, energy is precious, and there is less and less year by year. But there will always be enough for the important things … the Santa Tours the Town parade of fire trucks and two trucks of Marines collecting Toys for Tots is always worth bundling up for and celebrating. That is what we’ve just done. It is always a rush of warmth when I hand up a donated toy to the young marines in the back of the pod truck. Now it’s time to rest inside, and so I am here on the couch, feeling some discomfort in my ribs, and breathing a little heavier than usual. The parade is running live on the cable television station, and the radio that plays all Christmas all day and night is running in the background. In a little while, I’ll light a fire in the fireplace, and Rick will get the wood-stove going, and we’ll have a quiet, satisfied evening before heading to bed for a long early-winter’s nap.