The beautiful snow we have been watching fall for the past few days has reminded me of a story I wanted to include in the “Carolynnland” saga. Here it is…
A couple of weeks before Christmas my sister and I agreed that we would help put up decorations and a tree for my parents. I had the bright idea that it would be fun to get all of the grandchildren involved in this activity. For those who don’t know- the grandchildren consist of Neely (age 11), Emmma (age 8), Ava (age 6), and Elijah (age 5). Jessica had an after-school meeting, so it was agreed that I would begin the process and she would come as soon as her meeting was over.
At the end of that school day I brought 4 very excited children to my parent’s home to begin decorating. My brother-in-law Jeff had been kind enough to deliver a fresh-cut tree right to my parent’s living room. The room smelled wonderful. Few things are as synonymous with Christmas as the smell of fresh-cut pine.
For as far back as my memory can reach, I remember the smells and the colors and the decorations that filled our house during this particularly wonderful season. One of my mother’s biggest talents is her attention to detail. If you walked into my parents home during Christmas you would be instantly greeted by the fragrances of spiced apple cider, pine, and something yummy baking in the oven. I think smells are so important, but sometimes taken for granted. I love to accidentally catch a whiff of something and to be transported back to another time, another place.
Carolynn had taught us from a very early age the fine art of making your home look as lovely as it can and doing this all the while on a modest budget. My mother can walk into a store and find all sorts of hidden treasures and trinkets for her home. You could give her $50 to spend at a local discount store and she would come out with bags full of items, looking as if she’d spent well over $500 at Pottery Barn or some other wonderful shop. My mom will take $3 Christmas ornaments, just plain balls (red, green, silver) and place them in unexpected places such as inside crystal goblets or up high in a clear hanging pendant light fixture, and it will look like something out of the pages of a decorating magazine. I consider myself fortunate to have inherited even just the smallest taste of her talent for decorating. Jess inherited it too. Give the Elder girls $500 and we can decorate your entire house!
That afternoon I stood there with four children and a perfect Christmas tree- a blank canvas. I called my mom at work to let her know we had arrived. She was anxious for us to begin. She thanked us and said to call if we had any questions. Then we began. I started looking around for Christmas ornaments. I had already decided that I would be in charge of any of the “important” (i.e. breakable, priceless, heirloom) ornaments and the children could handle the rest. Unfortunately, after our scavenger hunt for Christmas ornaments all I could seem to located were the fragile ones. I called Carolynn. “Mom, I can’t find your ornaments. All I can find are the glass ones”….. and we enter Carolynnland…..
After a few words with mom I hung up the phone. Of COURSE she only has blown-glass ornaments. Why wouldn’t she? Of COURSE every single ornament is so fragile that it will break simply if LOOKED upon incorrectly. Why not? Of COURSE I have four adorable children anxiously waiting to help and all I can visualize are the number of Band-Aids and emergency room visits I have in my foreseeable future. Well, let’s begin. I bring the boxes over to the couch to begin the delicate task of gently placing these ornaments GENTLY into the hands of these children and helping them ever-so-gently place them onto a branch. But wait…. where are the hooks? I look for a few minutes. No luck. Another phone call to Carolynn.
Well, upon the conclusion of this particular phone call, a sad realization. I am informed that in Carolynnland all ornaments are to be placed onto each branch with individual, red ribbons tied beautifully into bows. (insert profanity of your choice here) Are you kidding me?! Not only am I going to have to be guiding each delicate ornament from box to tree, now I’m going to have to supervise bow tying for each of these paper-thin, glass ornaments of the devil? Keeping in mind that only 2 of the 4 children involved in helping with decorations even know HOW to tie a bow. Help me!
Fortunately, the delay in decorating caused by my sporadic phone calls to my mother created just enough time lapse that my children were completely disinterested in helping with the decorations. Thank you, Lord! Little Emma, much like her Aunt Amanda quickly became frustrated with the tediousness of selecting your ornament, getting your red ribbon, placing ornament threaded with ribbon on a branch and tying said ornament to branch. She gave it a good 10 minutes and then went to watch t.v. Can’t say as I blame her one bit.
This left sweet little Neely and me to the task at hand. That dear child helped me through the entire process. It wasn’t until we had decorated about 1/2 of the tree that I realized we had forgotten one very important step- the lights. Dang, dang it. I told her that I though we could do it without having to UNTIE any of these torture devices. Torture seriously. I had the pine needle scratches to prove it! She and I came up with our system and very carefully weaved the lights in and out, over and under the numerous red ribbons and glass ornaments. We finally made it all the way to the top and were quite proud of ourselves.
After all lights were placed and all ornaments had been strung and hung, it was time for the last step. Tinsel. It was now that I was able to bring the grandchildren back into the room and let them go to town with the one part of decorating that I knew wouldn’t cause any breaking or bleeding. They went to town! Tinsel was flying everywhere- like tiny comet tails zipping through the air and landing on branches. Tinsel which, might I just add, will be saved during the “undecorating” of the tree because it is gold Martha Stewart tinsel… of course. In Carolynnland Martha Stewart is a deity. Not God, but mighty close!
By the end of the decorating Jessica showed up. I told her the story and we had a good laugh about it. Overall it was a fun experience and the kids were so proud of themselves. That tree was a combination of chaos and perfection. Much like our lives during this time.
So, in conclusion friends, if ever in the future you’re ever thinking of helping Carolynn decorate a Christmas tree in her home please remember this- In Carolynnland “decorating” actually means taking blown-glass ornaments and tying them individually onto branches in lovely, red bows. BIG FUN!!!! Happy decorating!