Saturday, December 12, 2009
'Tis the Season
For decorating the tree. For me, Christmas starts just about a week before Thanksgiving. I don't subscribe to the Walmart way of looking at the world, which is to say that Christmas stuff should go on display after the goblins of Halloween have been put away. Well, I do confess to lighting my Xmas lights around my front door and along the driveway right about the end of October, but that is mostly due to practicality...a way to see the moose waiting in ambush when I schlep home in the dark at 4:00 PM.
But, even without the Big Box store way of things, I have always felt that living in Fairbanks is pretty much like being in Narnia under the White Witch- where it was always winter - except that we do have Christmas. And we have a lot of Christmas.
Although for quite a number of years I put up a classic Alaska tree (all the better to showcase one's ornaments) - of late I have been buying the excellent (and relatively cheap) trees at Alaska Feed. Except that this source of cheap trees is no longer known to just a few, and if one wants to get a half-way decent tree, one has to rush off and select it sometime in the first week of December. This year, I did wait til three days ago, but the trees were getting picked over.
So, perforce, my tree is up and in the process of being decorated. It's an exhausting task - necessitating many pauses and rests in the easy chair by the fire - with a cup of real* eggnog at my elbow and three snoring dogs at my feet.
Come to think of it, maybe its all the eggnog refreshment stops that are exhausting, not so much the stringing of the lights and the placement of the Christmas pickle (no explanation of this needed for readers of German heritage), the sparkly Christmas stars, the cat-in-the-jack box, or, my most treasured ornament: the squid ball (a clear glass ball filled with squid beaks sold in Point Aransas as a fund raiser for the local sea life lab).
Every year, I sort of drag my feet initially about getting a tree, but each time after I haul out the Christmas totes and unpack the many boxes of ornaments collected over the years (each with its own story) its worth it. And taking the time to load the tree so full of these memories that it practically tips over (it doesn't help that I never seem to be able to get the darn thing straight in the tree strand), is wholly enjoyable. It never fails but that I come across a little chotka that jiggles loose some long-forgotten episode of a Christmas past.
Some seasoned readers of this blog may remember the Tannenbomb of last year - where my tree croaked brown dead less than a week after purchase. Ah, this year I babied this conifer. Whisked it out of the store and into the pre-heated, toasty cab of my truck. Practically constructed a hermetically sealed corridor from truck to front door so there never was opportunity for freezing shock. Sawed off a hefty chunk of its stump, and plumped it into molasses-laden water. This time, I did it up right, and I am pleased to report the tree is drinking thirstily - having sucked up a gallon of water since last night.
Now, its back to work. Time to hang the stuffed cow-in-a-parka ornament....
*not the sugar-ladened stuff sold in the dairy section of Freddie's. Nope, this one is one dozen raw eggs, a pound of powdered sugar, two quarts of heavy cream and at least a fifth of whiskey or rum to "cook" those eggs, or more like, the imbiber.