Unpacking delicate vintage glass ornaments, untangling glowing orbs of flickering light, placing winter village scenes just so, divided camps of garland vs tinsel, and don’t forget the tradition of tree topper placement. Some believe less is more (those weird freaks!), and other believe holiday is the time of year to go all out (like me!). But no matter what our design style, we all deck those halls.
We decorate our homes in the right fashion & in the established order as dictated to us by tradition.
And by ’tradition’ I mean ’what mothers/wives say.’
We women get away with all of this for many reasons. After all, it’s usually the women who rule the roost, so it’s we who decorate the roost. We choose between real & artificial trees. We direct the placement of the tree - based on the ability of it to be best seen by those inside & outside of the home, with a dose of practicality to household traffic pattern. We tend to be the ones with the largest collection of ornaments, ceramic villages, and other family historical objects & know the importance & lore of each object as well.
Women tend to be the keepers of family history. The story keepers. We remember whose ornament is whose, the when & why, and we need to balance the old memories of our ancestors with the newer stories of our own families. Not only do we remember the stories, but we also, and this is perhaps the most important part of it all, we share those stories.
And in order to share those stories, we know that there must be proper placement. For how else can we bring up the funny stories of ice skating gone bad, if the winter pond scene isn‘t displayed? How can we discuss the history of Uncle Marvin's elf collection, if the elves are not displayed properly? Without seeing great grandma’s tree skirt, no one can mention how lovely it is, and then we might forget to tell the story of her first Christmas in America.
The physical placement of objects & ornaments is directly tied to our oral traditions.
So it seems only natural that at the holidays, a time of family & tradition, that women give all the dictation on the decoration. This goes here, that goes there, use the angel - not the star, just a little more to the left please. More lights, less lights, all white lights.
If you don't want the oral tradition to include the tale of the year there was no presentation of Marvin's elves (a story to be repeated each & every year), you'll just carry & tote, move & remove, then, yes, then get out of the way & let her do her holiday thing.
Now please bring down those other 8 boxes marked ‘Holiday’ from the attic - we must begin to set up the Winter Wonderland on the console table behind the couch (which will now have to be moved to better appreciate the view of the tree). Everything must be just so. And some folks already began in October, so we are late.
Unless, of course, we live with a person with a train collection.
Then we may have to decorate our way around, with great deference to, the focal point of the RR Holiday & all of it’s tracks, bridges, frozen ponds, & artificial snow. Even if it means most of great grandma’s tree skirt is now hidden. But we’ll agree, because it is the one time of year we’ll let that monster toy set be out of the basement. We have to - there's stories in dem der trains! But we’ll still tell him where the tree goes, despite the cord & track problems. And we’ll still settle the age old question of tinsel vs garland, thank-you-very-much.
Even if we have to play the old, ‘who do you suppose does most of the vacuuming?’ card.
Ahh, yes, the cleaning -- and don’t forget the baking of the holiday cheer! That ham with the cloves & the pineapple. Those cookies with Hershey’s kissed in the middles.
If you expect to eat those traditional festive foods, made with love not baked with bitchin’ in the kitchen, you’ll let us have our total decoration domination.
Let us turn the house into our versions of holiday, no matter how crazy & contradictory it may seem to you.
Clouds of glitter & fake snow swirling around a real tree, real velvet ribbons on an artificial wreaths, special candles that cannot be burned floating in bowls of water, with a special (expensive) mirrored charger beneath it (to reflect light from what?).
Leave the inside to us, and we'll let you have your outdoor decoration war with the entire sub-division. Leave us our Christmas stocking on each door knob, our special holiday pillows, door mats, table linens, flatware, centerpieces, runners, knick-knacks, paddy-wacks, and our giving the dog a holiday bone.
Don't question our need for individual ornaments each on their own stands - because the tree is not enough for us, darn it.
It may seem nuts to you, but then who puts those nuts in those cookies with the powder sugar you like so much? You may not know the name of those cookies, but you know you want them more than the re-gifted fruit cake. And speaking of names, who makes sure you never overlook the honorary aunt, the friend of grandma's who shows up every fourth year when her real family is away that year? Or remembers to send the appropriate card to your Jewish client? She does.
’Just whose holiday memory is this, anyway?’ well, it’s yours now, baby.