A Very Little Christmas

By this time last year, Lifelongnewyorker was deep into the blog … much more than lately.  Looking back, I see much discussion of the tree cutting, the decor, the food associated with the holiday, along with some idle thought about what this year would bring.

The answer is “Not much.” 

To say that our holiday decoration is sparse would be over the top.  After Thanksgiving, we pretty quickly decided that we would travel north to see family for Christmas.

And, no, our Thanksgiving experience didn’t drive that decision, but it sure has affirmed it.  Long story short: The Abandoned One came home to his parents for the holiday.  We cheerfully suggested that he fly into Atlanta, a much cheaper flight, and a mere two-hour drive from Montgomery. 

Of course, that’s two hours times two, since it’s round trip.  And it’s only two hours if you round down generously.  It was fine on the Tuesday night when we picked him up, not so fine on the Sunday when we took him back.  Inexplicably heavy traffic (NO ONE expects a traffic jam on I-85 between Montgomery and Atlanta, especially outside of Auburn) meant it took over well over three-and-one hours to deposit him at the terminal, about 10 minutes past the absolute last minute he could successfully check in. 

Luckily, he was able to get on another flight that night.  The next day I messaged him: “You’ll visit us again someday, won’t you?”  His reply: “Of course I will.  Oh, wait … you mean in Montgomery?”

My middle sister suggested that we spend Christmas Eve with them and enjoy the traditional fish dinner.  We have yet to see dried baccala here, and although I’ve been told that it’s possible to buy frozen squid, I have yet to find it anywhere.  And then there’s the matter of rounding up a dozen people to share the feast …

So we decided to “go home” for the holidays.  Which meant there was absolutely no reason to get a fresh tree, and we don’t have the other kind.  And if we didn’t have a tree, there was no need to pull out the decorations.  Lest we begin to mutter “Bah! Humbug!” to each other, we did decide to get a wreath.

It hangs on the front door, Mr. NYer having secured one of those removable hooks advertised on TV after we realized that the door is too thick for our old over-the-door hanger.  It’s a simple wreath, without even a bow.  I think the idea was that you’d decorate it yourself. 

I remembered that I’d seen tabletop live trees at Fresh Market and convinced Mr. NYer to pick one up.  It sat, in a miniature red bowl of a tree stand, on top of an end table in the living room for several days, absorbing all the light in the room.  No balls, garland, tinsel, or lights on this little Charlie Brown specimen.

Will it surprise you to hear that our shopping hardly happened?  We’re donating to Heifer International with my sisters, decided that a trip to New York was pretty much enough of a gift to ourselves, and expect to write a check for the Abandoned One.  Finally, late last week we went online and got gifts for the nieces, nephews and their kids.

I had to stop at CVS on Monday.  Feeling guilty, I found the shortest string of lights I could, along with a box of tiny ornaments.  I smuggled them into the house, planning to surprise Mr. NYer by furtively lighting and decorating the tree after dinner. 

Walking into the house, I set the bag down inconspicuously in the dining room and glanced into the living room.  There was the tree, now trimmed in red beads and a set of cardboard angels.  Mr. NYer had succumbed, too.

It was so O. Henry.

There are no lights on our tree, and none on our house, but it all seems to fit with Montgomery.  As you pass houses a quick glance through the windows (Montgomery homes feature large windows or french doors) will reveal a lavishly lighted large tree.  But the exterior decor is rather subdued, especially by Staten Island standards.  Perhaps one or two houses on a street will have some tasteful arrangement of lights around the door or the two bushes on either side of the porch. 

The rest rely on wreaths, fresh garland and large red bows.  Many homes have every window festooned with its own wreath, and feature a very welcoming front door.  It’s all rather … tasteful.

I can’t wait to bring photos of holiday lighting excess from back home.