If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


24 DEC 2017

DELFT - Once a year, I go on safari into the darkest reaches of 'the closet' and pull out boxes containing Christmas decorations. As I am the sort who does not discard much, I have stuff that is thick with memories. Most remind me of people.

I have a few pieces that are very old, and the frosting is almost all gone. Those once-fancy, glass dangles are from my mother's aunt Tommie. I have a set of geese, sown by ladies in Luling, Texas, for charity. They liked color and sequins. The two angels recall a time when I was a care-giver. They were hung over the bed and were a comfort to the patient. He opened his eyes and saw angels. The fuzzy, fraying silk balls are from many Christmases. And then there are all the small toys that caught my eye at some shop around the holidays.

Once a Year dopz-2017-12-24w

My family traditionally raised a Christmas tree and decorated it much later than our neighbors. We did it all around the 24th, and the day ended with everyone allowed to open ONE present. Gifts were stacked under the tree, and picking which one could take a while. As a child, it was a time of wonder, especially as it was only for a few days. As an adult, it is a time of wonder still.

'No presents', except for the children, falls apart quickly. You spot a gift the other does not need, does not know she wants, and has no place for - and buy it. My partner reminds me of our 'no presents', says I should not have, and then hands me the present she was not supposed to buy for me. It has become a kind of holiday ritual for us.

I put out all, every single piece, on a shelf at the back window. I stuck hooks in the frame and string lights in a tree shape on it. If you stand in the front and look in, it appears to be an over-decorated tree above a mound of children's toys. I have not had a cut tree in my holiday house for many years. The idea is it is a tree of lights, so I made a tree of lights. Shiny balls reflect and twinkle, strings of silver fluff loop back and forth.

Setting up the house for Christmas takes a whole day. Not that there is so much, it is because I am so slow. Each puppet needs to have the string pulled so arms flap and legs kick. Tangles have to be unwound.

There are the cartoon Santa and a fire place. I found a tiny tea pot and it sits on the mantle. It is silly, but I imagine Santa warming his backside and having tea before hitching the sleigh. It is cold out there, flying around.

For some reason, I am convinced these two pieces are from my childhood. Probably not, but it gives me warm feelings of my parents and brother. This is a time of short days, and warmth gets you through it.

And, there is the personal joy when you have a special present for a special person. It is not a big present, it is one that made you think: I'll bet so-and-so would like this. My partner and I have a no presents agreement.

I accept it is not the kind of tree people normally have, but I like it. It is merry, and all the toys that only come out once a year see wonder, color and brightness. For 2018, peace on Earth, good will to all - from the family.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved - gwileynl@gmail.com
In memory of Herb Caen