Aren’t vintage decorations wonderful? We brought them out at Kalembar Dune a little early this year – maybe because they are so nice to have around.
Do you ever ask yourself: “Self – Is it because we’re older that these remnants of yesteryear’s holidays bring such sentiment to our souls? Or is it because they really are prettier than, say, those squishy polyester snowmen that just FEEL so alien and unnatural?” Ah grasshopper… just another deep question for the learned ones...
We had an aluminum Christmas tree on Maple Street in the 1960s. Yes - we were one of those families, with beautiful mercury ornaments and a turning wheel matched up with a four colored light. The tree would turn in the small den of our house, atomic era reds, blues, greens and golds illuminating the silver fringed branches. I can still hear the resistant whir of the turning wheel, and the soft crunch of the branches as they would graze the one spot in the room that did not give full clearance.
It was a magical tree to us – and my parents, too I think. They - still not a decade in their new homeland – embraced it as one of the many things that would help them assimilate into modern American family culture. That was the anchor of the Christmas decor binge – we of course had the requisite red stockings and the cookies and milk for Santa. We also had the “Merry Christmas” sign in gold glitter and plastic holly and greens that proudly graced the front door (swiped that baby long ago – I still hang it on my back door in homage), a hanging music box bell that when the clacker was pulled (and in a house with four kids – just GUESS how many times that happened??) it would merrily tinkle away Jingle Bells. Plastic Santa and Frosty – taller than we were – guarded the front porch. We couldn’t wait to watch “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” laying on our bellies in front of the TV – hair damp from the tub, washed and combed and ready for the wondrous day approaching.
My father would have hung the big colored bulb lights on the tall pine trees that fronted the house – likely thinking to himself ”how did a guy from nice, warm Beiruit end up hanging these !@#$$#% tangled lights on a freezing Boston day in early December?” His frozen sacrifice made our home – always a warm and safe haven – take on a fairy tale like quality with the onset of Christmas.
Now, as a parent myself, I realize the clever fairy behind it all was our smart and beautiful mother – who tirelessly decorated, baked, cooked, cleaned and served up a scrumptious feast for the dozens of crazy Armenian relatives that would join us for the festivities. Without a peep, she would roll out a perfectly coordinated event – her quiet smile revealing not an inch of the steel backbone that General Patton would have envied.
Many years later, Mom is now our Christmas angel, but the memories of the lovely, wacky childhood gifted to us by our parents lives on as our own special memory fairy. Keep your iPads and video games and all other manner of present day excess. Just gift me a peaceful day with my kids filled only with giggles and hugs. And, while it is still achingly hard to have Mom absent, I like to think that maybe some of the magic of Christmas comes from being grateful to those who made it so special for us in years past. So – HO – HO – HO my friends! Have a warm, safe and vintage holiday season!