I have always been crazy for Christmas. And by crazy, I mean completely over the top with ideas, fantasies, expectations and decorations. Of those things, decorations is really the only one I had control over. So decorations at my house have always been out of control.
As the youngest child I was the driving force behind getting our house decorated. I would drag out all the boxes I could from upstairs to downstairs. If the box was too big I would take the items out individually and carry them down the stairs on their own. No one helped me. I'm not certain if they didn't help because they didn't want to, or if they didn't help so they could just stay the hell out of my way.
Everything had it's own place: Felty Santa with the shiny boot that always fell off, he goes in the nook above the furnace vent; Music box on the shelf underneath Santa; Plastic light up Santa head, that goes in the front window of the dining room; light up plastic bells go in the side window of the dining room; ceramic Santa sleigh that belonged to my great-grandmother and the lead dear was missing half of front leg, that goes in my room!
My mother was no help. She fed my addiction. When I was 8 she came up with an idea to buy a special ornament for each family member. The ornament would be dated with your name on it and when you moved out you would have an entire tree decor ready for your new home. I took this to heart and immediately chose my theme for the rest of my life, Snoopy and Peanuts. Two years later I abandoned that theme and went for the one that actually stuck, the most expensive ornament in the store.
Not much has changed since I was 8. I still gravitate to the most expensive ornament in the store, I still get all the boxes out by myself (some people are so uncooperative with hauling Christmas decor out on November 1st) and I still pretty much decorate the house all by myself and I don't know if it's because no one wants to help me or if they just want to stay the hell out of my way. Okay, I lied, I know for a fact they just want to stay the hell out of my way.
I've turned my obsession into a a career at one point working for Nordstrom installing Christmas decor, and I've also helped decorate Richard Simmons's house for Christmas.
My theory has always been, it's not done until its OVERDONE. You'd think that would be okay, but come the week after Christmas, I'm exhausted, the house is over decorated, and no one wants to take down all that stuff and put it away.
Last year Lyle bribed me with a trip to Paris in December if I would decorate less. I agreed to doing just a tree. Right before Christmas our very special puppy, Lola, passed away. I couldn't imagine decorating like usual. Getting the tree up was a chore. For the first time in my life, I was not Christmas crazy.
On the plane ride to Paris I was reading a book called "Tinsel" by Hank Stuever. The book is all about the crazy lengths people go through in a Texas town to decorate and celebrate Christmas. From one year during the boom times, followed by one year during a much leaner time. Then we were in Paris and though the retail stores did amazing window displays, the way the Parisians seem to celebrate Christmas is much more understated than I do.
I went in to one of the biggest retailers in Paris and found their Christmas decoration selling area. I was keen to buy my fantastical Paris 2010 ornament. I came out of the shop empty handed. "Nothing good?" Lyle asked. I have more individual unique ornaments at home, than they have in total stock of the most boring ornaments repeated in there, I was so sad.
And that's when it began to dawn on me. My way of celebrating and decorating for Christmas is unique. Unique to where I live. I have loads of storage space. All that Christmas decor has to live somewhere when it is not on display (33 plastic totes in the basement, a king size bed space of greenery in the garage). Who has that kind of space in Paris? In Manhattan? Who has that much time and money to invest in all this stuff?
Don't get me wrong. I am still crazy for Christmas. But I am trying to bring my level down to just crazy and no longer INSANE.
Last year, tear down was easy, strip the tree and you're done. I liked that. This year I have a lot going on in my world and I am attempting to scale down the crazy once again. We will get a tree this weekend, light it, decorate it like there is no tomorrow, then step back and take stock. A couple of additional items on the mantel, the dining room table... I think I will be done.
Of course, that being said, you just KNOW that ONE tree we do get is going to be OVER THE TOP.