The end of the year is always my very favourite time of year, and Christmas is my very favourite holiday. My parents made Christmas just as magical an experience as any good Catholic parents could, and I am well aware that my love of the season is directly related to their efforts to make it wonderful for my sister and me.
That said, my mom had certain rules surrounding the holidays that I recently realized that I completely rage against. So, without further ado, I thought I’d share my mom’s rules, and the way that I shamelessly flout them, now that I’m a grown woman and can do whatever I want.
(Just don’t tell my mom.)
My Mom’s rule: Ornaments should have a theme. Furthermore, they should all relate to that theme, and the colours of the ornaments should be compatible and complementary, bringing a sense of peace and harmony to the tree.
My rule: Ornaments, if they have a theme, are not required to match in any way, shape, or form. To wit: every year, I purchase a new angel ornament. And every year, they look nothing like the year before:
And related to this:
METHOD OF DECORATION
My Mom’s rule: Every ornament should be thoughtfully and intentionally placed on the tree. Smaller ornaments should go near the top of the tree, larger ones at the bottom, to make sure that the tree is balanced. Also, care should be taken to make sure ornaments do not overwhelm the tree: a delicate visible-tree-to-ornament ratio should be maintained.
My rule: If we own it, it goes on the tree. Ornaments shouldn’t be discarded until they are literally falling apart (and sometimes, not even then). Ornaments don’t even have to be ornaments — art projects or even a voodoo doll of love that came with a Swatch watch can be included (true story). And if you can’t see the tree for all of the ornaments — success!
OTHER CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS:
My Mom’s rule: Given the religious importance of the season, any other Christmas decorations should convey the solemnity of the occasion by being (a) heirlooms, (b) delicate, (c) expensive, or, ideally (d) all of the above. They should be strategically placed around the house, so as to add a magical air of wonder in unexpected places.
My rule: Bitterness about never being allowed to play LEGO as a child (“that’s a boys‘ toy”) manifest in the creation of elaborate LEGO structures and winter villages. In fact, the Christmas season does not officially begin until a LEGO structure is erected and added to the previous houses. And an unreasonable amount of time should be spent actually playing with the little LEGO figures.
(Don’t judge me.)
APPROPRIATE TREE LIGHTING
My Mom’s rule: The tree should remain unlit until sundown every day, and then turned off at approximately 10 p.m. each night. The only exception: the tree may remain lit all day on Christmas day. The tree should be taken down before the new year.
My rule: Do you know how long it takes to trim a tree when you don’t throw away any ornaments? By God, after all that work, the tree remains lit all day long, every day, until at least January 2nd. (Although the lights are be turned off when I go to bed. I’ve seen enough safety videos about trees catching fire to be paranoid about leaving the lights on at night.)
I know my mom is probably pretty horrified by my Christmas actions, but if history is any teacher, she just needs to wait until my daughter Alex is an adult: I suspect Alex will think my Christmas practices so odd, she’ll return to the more thoughtful and elegant Christmases that my mom loves and holds so dear.
How about you: do you have any holiday traditions (Christmas or otherwise) that you practice? Are they the same as the ones your parents did? Or are you a rebel like me?
I’d love if you’d share in the comments, below.
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