Today was a fine day for a walk. The first day this year it wasn’t rainy and foggy. It was cloudy and windy and 65*. Can’t complain about that.
When I came home I got to work putting away all the Christmas stuff. When I did that I organized the closet and got everything all neat and nice again. I think there are closet critters that hide when the door is open but when it’s closed they get busy messing everything up. There is no other explanation for how a tidy closet becomes a mess.
The not very good picture is what I saw from my balcony on New Year’s Eve. The city has a big celebration in front of the State House and for several blocks down Main Street. There are bands and artists, food and drink, and of course, fireworks. The fireworks are really quite nice…the picture doesn’t come close to how good they are. Anyway, it’s very nice to watch the fireworks from my living room in my pajamas.
Speaking of fireworks…
I have a friend whose family has a tradition of
having fireworks when someone dies.
They do it to celebrate their loved one’s life and
to let Heaven know to open the gates.
I think it is a great tradition. What do you think?
My Ma was rather superstitious and she was very serious about her traditions and rituals. When we were little she did her best to instill these quirks of hers in us. This time of year there were a few things that had to be done–or not done–or else. What the or else entailed I don’t know because we were always sure to follow the rules about these things.
On New Year’s Eve all the Christmas decorations had to come down and be packed up and put away. You should never have the old hanging around on New Year’s day. This was sometimes kind of hectic and could be frustrating because what took days to put up had to be gone in one day. Somehow it was always done though.
Also, on New Year’s Eve you have to put a dime on the outside window sill. On New Year’s morning if the dime is there for you to take back in the house it means you will bring money in all year. But, woe, if the dime is not there to bring in you will lose money all year.
There were a couple of important things for New Year’s Day, too. One is never-never eat chicken on that day but be sure to eat fish. The reason for this is chickens scratch backward and fish swim forward–easy to figure out right–you don’t want to go backward in the new year, only forward.
The other thing is to wear something new on the first of January. You want new finery in the new year, don’t you? Who wants to wear old rags all year?
I laugh at these little rituals now–but not too loudly. I do put away the Christmas stuff on 12/31. After the big day all that stuff looks sort of tired and tacky. I don’t always wear something new on the first of January–I like my old rags so it’s ok if I have to wear them another year. The dime thing I don’t do either–maybe because I don’t have outside window sills. And I don’t usually have fish on New Year’s day but I never have chicken–haven’t a clue about why that one stuck.
I suppose these are silly little things but they are memories of Ma and they make me smile remembering her and her many quirky traditions.
One of my favorite memories of Christmas is getting the Christmas tree. It was always an event. Dressed in parkas, hats, scarves, gloves, and boots we would get in the car and with great excitement head out to the Christmas tree lot.
Once there we would wander the lot looking for the perfect tree. Of course, we each had a different idea of what perfect was; Ma liked them sort of short and kind of fat, my brother wanted it tall and fat with long needles, I wanted it tall and slender with short needles,none of us wanted any bare spots, and Daddy didn’t care how tall or short, long or short needle, fat or slender, he wanted it not to cost too much, and the trunk must be straight–that was the most important consideration.
We would look at dozens of possibilities; standing them up and twirling them to make sure there were no bare spots and that the trunk was straight. It seemed that Christmas trees do not grow that way so we would settle for the least crooked tree. We could put the bare spot to the wall and the tree holder base thingee could be shimmed to make the tree look straight and it wouldn’t fall over.
Well one year, I think I was about ten, the most amazing thing happened. We found a tree; not too short or tall with needles that were neither long or short, it wasn’t slender or fat, sort of between, and there were no bare spots, the trunk was straight ,and the price was right. We were in Pine Tree Paradise! We could hardly wait to get home and put this perfect tree in the living room and get it decorated.
Getting it in the house and decorating it is a whole nother story. This part of the tree ritual was written in stone somewhere never to be deviated from. Here goes: First, Daddy brings the tree in and puts it in the tree stand which requires some sawing and screwing and swearing. Second, Daddy is in charge of the lights–I should mention here that Daddy was fond of liquid Christmas cheer–the lights take a while to get just right requiring everyone out of the room, except maybe Mr. Daniels (Jack) or if the tree cost too much then Bud would be there, and some colorful language.
Then finally we could go in and put the garland and ornaments on and finish with tinsel. There was always much discussion about this, too, and many opinions. Ma liked few ornaments and garland and some tinsel, my brother liked lots of ornaments and garland with just a little tinsel. I liked a lot of everything–hey, it’s Christmas you can be tacky–I mean you have a lighted tree in the living room people! It would all get done with no blood shed but sometimes there would be tears, then we would go have supper.
The year of the perfect tree things went without a hitch, it was really strange, everything just seemed to work. It was beautiful–perfect height, perfect needles, perfect shape, perfect lights and decorations. We were all so proud and happy; we practically floated into the kitchen for supper.
We talked and laughed about the day and how this is what Christmas tree day should be like every year–then there was this funny little noise, a sort of tinkling then a kind of creak–for the minute we tried to figure out what the noise had been –there was silence–then—
and another silence–
then we all ran into the living room to see our apparently not so perfect tree lying on the floor.
It is really something that the tree stood as long as it did. The poor tree had severe scoliosis and should have been spared the dubious honor of being a Christmas tree. Well, it got picked up and wired to the crown moulding–with the bare spot, where the branches had broken in the fall, facing the wall. The decorations that survived put back on and the tinsel–well it never did look quite right but it hung in there.
This really is one of my favorite Christmas memories–it is just so us.
So,here is some advise, if you are looking for a tree get one my family passes by–it will probably have a straight trunk and stand upright and tall for you. Also, make sure the one in charge of checking the trunk has not spent too much time with Jack or Bud before you go.
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