I live in a small quarry town near our state capital. The city maintenance department decorates the main drag through our little town and it always looks amazing.
The efforts of these wonderful people make the long, dark, Northwestern nights feel so much kinder.
Some years the people here go all out decorating their yards, others not so much. This year, the neighbors’ homes are decorated for the season, but not as lavishly as in some years.
Our home is always quite simple in its holiday decorating–a tree, candles, a cute centerpiece for the table. Outside, my hubby puts up small lighted displays, but nothing too fancy.
We keep it simple because we have to tear it down and put it all away over New Year’s day, and that rapidly becomes a bore. I don’t like anything that falls into the category of labor.
Two lighted wire Christmas trees (there used to be three), a string of ten lighted candy canes, a wreath and a porch ornament–that is the extent of our usual efforts at decorating the outside of Casa del Jasperson.
Unfortunately , this year our lighted display died right after it went up–so as of this writing we have a yard full of broken ornaments. I plan to replace them today or tomorrow with something new.
We’ve had no snow this year, but we have all the mud you could ever wish for.
Two days ago we received 3.3 inches of rain, so maybe we should switch to Noah’s Ark themed Christmas decorations.
One of my favorite Christmas memories is of 2008. My mother was in the final stages of lung cancer and was living with us in her final days. She was 82, and exceedingly independent. It it was a sign of just how ill she was that she allowed me to move her into my home so I could care for her.
My hubby had set up the lighted reindeer display: three sweet reindeer made of wire and white lights. However, the snow that year was quite deep. All around their little electric feet, the heat of the lights would melt the snow.
But not evenly.
The littlest reindeer, which Mama named Rudolph even though his nose was not red, kept falling over. Our display looked awful as compared to the neighbors.
Every day, first thing in the morning, Mama went to the front window and checked on that reindeer. She grumbled and fidgeted, wanting to get out there and fix it herself. Unfortunately, chemo had taken its toll; she had no strength.
But nothing had stopped her sense of humor. Watching the neighbors negotiate the street in the deep snow offered hours of entertainment for her. She stood on the porch laughing and making ribald comments as she watched my hubby attempting to stand our rickety electric Rudolph back up.
No matter how we tried, our display that year was the lamest one on the street. Our neighbors pointed and laughed at the prone reindeer as they walked to the grocery store.
A few days before Christmas, I was in the kitchen making breakfast. Mama was looking out the front window, talking on the phone to my Aunt Lillian. “That littlest reindeer is a terrible influence. Usually he’s the only souse in the lot, but today we have a yard full of drunken reindeer.”
Aunt Lillian said something, and Mama replied, “I’m not joking. The whole herd is passed out in the snow. Either that, or we had a drive-by shooting and the reindeer were the casualties.”
Sure enough, when Greg went out to go to work, all three electric reindeer were laying on their sides.
That was Mama’s last Christmas. Those reindeer have long since gone to broken ornament heaven and the current broken things will join them.
This year my younger brother, who has a chronic illness, is living with us. Having an extra person in the home has been an adjustment, but not too difficult. The tree is up, and the family room is cheery. We will host a Christmas dinner for our friends and a few family members. I will make my usual dishes (vegan) and my friend will accommodate the carnivores.
At Christmas, I can’t help but think about Mama and good old Rickety Rudolph. For most of her life she had suffered from chronic depression, but as she drew toward the end of her life, she developed a positive outlook. She found humor in the smallest things, and when she passed away, I missed her wit and commentary.
I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas, whether it is snowy or the traditional mud-fest we usually have here. May the year ahead be filled with plenty of good things to balance the bad, and may you always find the humor in life.