Thanks to four wonderful Elf’s including serene (who has a journal, but I can't seem to get a link), her niece and 2 friends, we got a really good start last Sunday at my 2010 Xmas DecoMania, but there’s still plenty to do. More boxes to move and unpack, more garland and lights to put up and esp. more ornaments to place. Plus this is the first year we have our beautiful back yard, so I’ve got a few plans for it too!
I made a mistake listing the days I will be decorating in the last post. I am not available on Sunday, Nov. 14, but I am available on Saturday, Nov. 13. Here’s the corrected list of days and the times I’m going to start on each day. Drop me a note or call, if you haven’t already, and let me know the day and approx. time you might be coming.
I promise will be my last "call for help" posts, I just wanted to correct the days in case anyone wanted to volunteer, but could only do it on Saturday. As I said before, if you don't have the health, time or inclination to help, it's really okay and I hope you can come to the open house - announcement coming soon.
Thursday, Nov. 11 10 am
Friday, Nov. 12, 10 am
Saturday, Nov. 13 11 am
Monday, Nov. 15 10 am
The angst is over (for now). I’ve decided to decorate for Xmas AND I’ve decided to ask for help. I’m going to try and get as much done as possible in the next week. If you are local and want to lend a hand, take a look at the end of this for XMAS 2010 DecoMania details.
If you’ve not seen our house at xmas (btw we live in San Leandro), then I’d better give you a little idea of what’s involved. First, there’s the prepping; as much shelve space as possible will be cleared of tchotchkes and photos. Some stuff will be placed on the lower level of bookcases. Then all the bookcases will be covered with cotton (for that snowy look). Lights and garland will outline the bookcases. Garland will outline all doorways.
Now the real fun starts, moving the boxes from the storage unit in the backyard to the front room. I think I have at least 25 large, plastic tote boxes of decorations. I have a hand truck, but there will be lifting involved. Next we unpack and start organizing the decorations. There are some boxes I have not opened for the last 2 seasons and I hope we can get to them. I don’t have room for everything, so some items will be repacked and other items will join a box of “give aways”, if you’re here when it goes in and you want it, it’s yours. The laws of storage space tells me I can not continue to buy new stuff every year and not run out of room, so some things just gotta go. But I digress.
Once everything is out and mostly in place, then the boxes will need to be moved back to the storage space. There are outside decorations, but I’ll just have to see how that goes.
It sounds so simple when I type it out, but believe me this has taken me 6 weeks and all my spare time & energy. If we can pull it all together, I will plan the Xmas Open House this year. I haven’t had one since 2007. The last two years have been a series of health hits on me and mine, but this is NOT a pity party. This is a celebration of all things bright, shiny and xmas cutesy.
So that’s the basics. Here are the times I plan to devote to XMAS 2010 DecoMania. I have a long weekend because of Veteran’s Day and a furlough day, plus I took a vacation day. The beginning time is pretty firm (as in I’ll be up and dressed!) The ending time will vary; when I get too exhausted and/or there are no volunteers. If you are planning on coming, please let me know your desired time and date (email or phone 510-639-0840). Let me know if you need the address too. Come for as little or as much as you can stand. It will be work, but it will also be FUN!
Sunday, Nov. 7 12 pm
Thursday, Nov. 11 10 am
Friday, Nov. 12, 10 am
Sunday, Nov. 14 11 am
Monday, Nov. 15 10 am
And to all my local friends who do not have the time, health or inclination to attend XMAS 2010 DecoMania, I completely understand.
Winter is coming. It rained last week and we have another storm moving in tonight. The days are getting shorter, setting the stage for the coming twinkle of holiday lights. The part of my brain that organizes xmas decorating has roared awake. But this year, even more than last year, the flesh may be too weak to take it on; the back, the knees, the ankle and the fatigue.
I have awoken the last five mornings with decorating strategies on my mind.
Maybe I can get up an extra hour early each day and do a little at a time. Not really practical since I rarely get more than 4 hours of continuous sleep a night now. Less would most likely not translate into more accomplished – probably just more time sitting and staring into space.
I could just put up a few things. I think this might make me more depressed then putting up nothing at all. If you’ve been to our house at xmas time or seen the photos on Flickr
I could ask for help. This is never easy for me. Last night I finally pushed the king size bed out of the way and got the foot stool out and strained and stretched to change the light bulbs in our bedroom. They’ve been out for over a month. I could have asked for help – even from Guy’s attendant – but I didn’t. It’s a combination of I should be able to do THIS and not wanting to bother people.
So here I sit at work, the Friday before Halloween with my devil ears on and a green LED blinking necklace, trying to figure out if and how I might make it feel like xmas this year.
I don't remember doing it, but I think I twisted my ankle. About 8 pm (xmas eve) I couldn't walk on it anymore, took an ibuprofen and went to bed to elevate my leg. Of course this meant I fell asleep and didn't wake up until about midnight. It's feeling a little better, but I'm still limping and it's swollen.
Everything that I planned to do last night, I still have to do. It's almost 3:30 am and I just finished setting the table and mixing the onion dip. I don't know if I'll get much more done before I go to bed. I'll just have to squeeze it all in tomorrow. I might try to label/post-it all the bowls now, it really makes putting stuff out so much faster. Maybe I'll just update my spreadsheet (yes, I do a spreadsheet with items, type of plate/bowl needed and approx. time to deal with it) and go to bed.
Appetizers: olives, chedder cheese ball, onion dip, bacon/green onion dip, clam dip, soppresta salami, crackers, salsa, veggie tray, potato chips, tortilla chips (who needs dinner now?)
Dinner: lasagna, salad, corn, garlic bread, rolls. stonebender's family is bringing green beans with bacon, potatoes and ham
Dessert: red velvet cake, pie (tracytreefrog, I was sleeping when you called, if you have or want to get a pie that would be great, but don't sweat it if you don't) and I think C is bringing some cookies.
Depressing Crap List:
Our dog Gilly died in Sept. and I really miss her.
The lay-offs in the city have placed me in a job I hate. Every work day since Nov. 17th I wake up dreading going to work.
Stacy, Guy's long time attendant, quit because she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about three weeks ago and it's very advanced. She helped me decorate each year. Last year she gave me a Santa who "Ho Ho Ho'd" and then bent over, pulled down his pants and farted.
The economy is scary and I think it's going to get worst.
I'm sure there's more, but these are the big ones.
Tonight I went in search of my xmas spirit. I went out to mail the xmas cards. I grabbed a hot coco, turned the radio to the all xmas music station, turned off the heater and drove around looking at xmas lights. I parked across from a tree lot and watched families pick out trees. Nothing. I parked in front of the house with moving dioramas. One is Santa's workshop with the elves pounding away at toys. Another is 3 snowmen who rotate around a xmas tree. As each one comes to the front, he stops, turns and "shivers". They all carry signs with greetings on them. Tonight I imagined they were strikers on a picket line. There are several 2-D trains made of lights that blink on and off to make it look like the wheels are turning and smoke coming out of the smoke stack. I thought of pollution.
I decided this wasn't working and came home before I saw one more set of framed deers with white lights and moving heads and thought of Sarah Palin. Or before I heard Wham's Last Christmas on the radio again.
If anyone has seen my xmas spirit or has any to share, please let me know.
Christmas eve is set aside for a little cleaning, putting the lasagna together (the sauce was cooked a few days ago), prepping the salad items, setting the table and tagging the serving dishes. I post-it note everything, so come xmas day I just have to put the item in the dish and set it on the table. When I was growing up, every holiday (without fail) had my mom lamenting something she forgot to put out. Not that we ever noticed because there was so much food, but it always irritated her. If only she had post-it notes.
By the age of 11, I’d begun to experience how large the world really was. As a family, we took a train ride to see Uncle Ervin in California. It took 3 days to go 2000 miles. In school I learned to travel all the way around the earth was about 25,000 miles. Even if you don’t account for the time it takes him to drop off the presents, even if you accept he could go faster than a train and maybe even an airplane, the math for an overnight delivery was looking mighty shaky. I’d already accepted his use of magic, after all there’s nothing aerodynamic about reindeers, but somehow I expected the rest of his story to be straightforward, i.e. magic free. This was my waffle year; logic fought with my ardent wish to believe Santa was real and adults never lied.
Christmas Eve was the extended family get-together. For most of my childhood, Mom and Aunt Emma alternated hosting this night. This year it was at Aunt Emma & Uncle Frank’s home. They lived in a 2 story house; upstairs was an apartment they rented out. When you came in the front door, there was a small alcove. Here was a bookcase with lots of old hardcover books; many of them condensed Reader’s Digests. The year before, I was content to play with my younger nieces (ages 4 and 5) and boy cousins; Aunt Emma always had the Lincoln Logs and Mr. Potato Head ready for us. This year I waved off the kids and sat on the steps leading up to the apartment and read a book by the dim bulb in the entrance area. When I finally got too cold to stay there, I went back into the main house. I briefly considered joining the kids, but the enticing smells, warmth and especially the buzz of adult talk drew me to the kitchen. I distinctly remember wanting to be part of the conversation, not just the “fly on the wall” trying to hear something I shouldn’t. Of course, if the adults were really talking about “adult” things, they changed the subject or switched to Italian when they saw me.
Unfortunately, even thought I wanted to be included in the grown-up’s life, often I found it boring. Just as I was about go back to the front room and see what the kids were doing, their father John arrived. Snowflakes melted on his dark hair and the smell of new fallen snow swirled around him. With the perfect level of excitement in his voice, he said he heard on the radio that U.S. weather radar was tracking a UFO; they weren’t sure but it might be sleight shaped. What did we think it might be? “It’s Santa, it’s Santa” the girls shrieked. “Maybe” their father replied. They kept insisting until he agreed it had to be Santa. All my doubts vanished with this announcement. Radar “saw” Santa. John sounded so convincing. For this moment, for this night, I believed again. I knew there would be presents waiting for me in the morning and only one person could have left them there.
By the next Christmas, logic prevailed. I knew Santa was a myth. I knew Mom bought and wrapped the presents. I knew Mom ate the cookie and milk and put the carrots back in the fridge. I became part of the adult Santa conspiracy, with a wink behind my nieces backs, as we assured them Santa knew what they wanted. A little magic had left my life.
Our annual xmas gift shopping day was successful. We started and ended our shopping all in one day.
I'm working on getting our xmas cards out. Gilly, the wonder dog, was a great subject as usual, even if she hates me for a little while.
I have a cold (yuck), but it's definitely on the way out.
I walked around the mall for hours and my knee didn't hurt.
I only have two days of work this week. Wed. and Thurs. only, then it's off until Dec. 26.
I have a job interview tomorrow - not really sure if this is a good thing or not. I don't really want the job, but I have to do the interview to get to the job I do want. If you've ever worked in a governmental job, you'll know what I mean.
I still love to see it all, but I'm not sure how many more years I can do this level of decorating. As it is, I've had someone move most of the boxes from storage to the house. And Guy's attendant, Stacy, really helps me out with covering the bookcases.
I wonder if I'll scale back at some point or just stop all decorating cold turkey one year? If I do stop, it will break a tradition of 40 years. I was about 10 years old when I started drawing xmas decorations, coloring them, cutting them out and hanging them on the wall. Somewhere there is a Thanksgiving picture from this time with my decorations already up. I doubt Dad noticed, he worked so much and Mom was very tolerant of my budding obsession.
Even during years of transition, I had a few decorations out. My first year in California, I had just moved into my apartment in late November. This was MY first real xmas tree. My furniture hadn't arrived yet, but I had a tv tray, a folding chair and a xmas tree in my front room. We moved into this house right after Thanksgiving in 1999. Again, I didn't have any front room furniture (it was on order), but we had a real xmas tree!
I was too young to remember when my family had a real tree. My first memories were of a silver tinsel tree with the revolving colored spot light. After that, we had a fake tree because my Mom hated cleaning up the messy needles and my Dad had an extreme fear of fires. Each of our houses were one level, so we could easily jump out of the window - two level houses were unacceptably dangerous in his eyes. The two houses he "designed" had a connecting closet between the two bedrooms. He was always after Mom not to load the floor up with "junk" because that was our escape route. We could get to my parents and they could get to us, if either bedroom door became blocked. While we never actually practiced this, it was talked about enough that there is little doubt in my mind that if I'd ever smelled smoke in the middle of the night, my first instinct would have been to head for the closet.
Enough with the writing, for there is decorating to be done!
There's history here. Christmas Eve was the day my extended family would gather at our house or my aunt’s to eat, talk, open presents, talk and then eat some more. Lasagna was always served. We’d have ham or turkey, potatoes, veggies, salads and desserts, but the lasagna was the star of the show. Mom made lasagna other times during the year, but there was just something so different about the xmas lasagna. Maybe she splurged a little more and added extra cheese? Maybe she added something extra to the sauce? Maybe it was because, as soon as I was old enough to fish a noodle out of the water, I helped Mom put the layers together. Or maybe my anticipation of this one special family day was the secret “spice.”
Of course I was excited about the presents – first I opened the family presents and then, after only a few hours of sleep, I’d have Santa’s haul to tear into. I played with my cousins and my nieces, but what I really enjoyed was weaving in and out of the adults’ conversations. Sometimes they didn’t notice I was listening; I learned more than one family secret this way. But that’s another series of stories . . . back to the lasagna.
My first xmas in California was also my first xmas away from my family. It was 1981. stonebender was the only person I knew in the area. He spent the holiday with his family, who live about an hour inland. I was invited to join them. I think they were all curious to meet stonebender’s friend who happened to be a girl; he had most emphatically told them I was not his “girlfriend”. I think he didn’t want to either assume too much (I’d only move here the first week of Nov.) or have his family tease him in front of me.
I sat in the living room watching the lights on the tree blink on and off. I met his mom, dad, sisters, brother, aunt, uncle and grandparents. It all made me so homesick. With the 2 hour time difference, I’d just made a call to my family’s celebration. Everyone took turns talking to me. Over and over we’d talk about my 60 degree vs. their 10 degree weather. This was the first of what has become the traditional xmas eve phone call from me, their crazy sister/daughter/cousin/aunt who moved to earthquake country. Tonight I will make my 26th such call.
Back to 1981: Most people don’t think of me as shy, but I have my moments, and this was most definitely one of them. I didn’t know what to talk to these strangers about. stonebender stayed close and tried to deflect most of the weird questions from his grandpa and uncle. Grandpa immediately started hinting about grandkids. I guess he didn’t get the memo re: I am not stonebender’s girlfriend! Everything was strange – from no snow on the ground to the appetizers. Tree and presents do not a xmas make. And speaking of presents, when everyone was passing them out, I was a little surprised when I received two. I knew stonebender had one for me, but what was this 2nd one? Wanting to make me feel welcomed, his parents had bought me something. I felt strange because I’d not brought them anything. I was 24 years old, living in a hotel in Santa Clara until I could find an apartment and I’d never heard of a “hostess gift.” I’ll admit I was confused when I found a silver whistle on a chain, much like the ones referees wear round their neck to get the players attention. They told me it was a whistle I could wear to be safe. I don’t think they actually called it a “rape whistle”, but that’s what stonebender and I called it. I guess they figured if their son finally had a girlfriend and I was going to visit him in scary downtown Oakland, they didn’t want anything to happen to me.
So there I was, feeling very alien, wearing a rape whistle around my neck and now we had to all gather around the table for dinner. I think I bumped one of his siblings to the “kids” table, as they made a space for me at the adult one. His mother started bringing the dishes out. When she set the large pan of lasagna in the middle of the table, tears started to fill the corners of my eyes. It wasn’t my mom’s lasagna (they used breakfast link sausages!) but it was noodles, sauce and cheese; it was familiar. Lasagna was their traditional Holiday meal too. Now it felt like Christmas.
Tomorrow stonebender’s family will come for dinner. Yes, there’ll be appetizers, ham, veggies, salad and dessert, but it will be the lasagna that will sit center table. I’ve only been making the lasagna a few years and it makes me feel like such an adult. Mama’s little noodle fisher has graduated to the big time.
With all this going on, I gave serious consideration to skipping this year's big decorating thing. I thought "Maybe I'll take out just a box or two to brighten up the house" . . . well, much like potato chips, I couldn't stop at one. So I once again find myself with a house full of bright, shiny, noise producing xmas doodads. And, as usual, I am more than happy to share! And if you can't make the open house, but would like to stop by at another time, give me a call/email. Decorations are up at least until the first week in January
Come One - Come All
Sunday, Dec. 10, 2006
2 pm - 8 pm
email for address and directions, if you need them.