We've had years where we didn't get the decorations up until a few days before Christmas. This year I'm a few sleigh-lengths ahead of St. Nick.
I'm not sure why things are going better. Must just be my 'tude and the fact that The Goo Goo Dolls' "Better Days" is coming up on my play list with more frequency than Emmerson, Lake and Palmer's "I Believe in Father Christmas."
Whatever the cause, I had the tree built the weekend after Thanksgiving and we decorated it over a few early December weeknights. A few ornaments here, a few ornaments there until we were finished.
For the first time this year we've also included strings of traditional, opaque C-9s--acquired in an after Christmas clearance to replace last year's transparent C-9s. They didn't feel like the old fashioned Christmas lights that Christine remembered. From the , uh, '70s.
We didn't have Christmas lights so much at my house. In 1959, my mom purchased one of those aluminum Christmas trees with a half-life of about 500,000 years that they're talking about in "A Charlie Brown Christmas". It was still in great shape when I came along, and she didn't give it up until about 1975. I think it still looked fine when it was snapped up in the estate sale.
You couldn't put C-9s on an aluminum tree without turning it into an electrical turbine.
But I digress. It's kind of nice to have a tree that looks like the one I used to see on The Waltons Christmas special.
I think, for this year at least, I've finally put into practice a piece of advice that I picked up a few years ago while moderating a Christmas-themed web chat with one of the psychiatrists from my company's mental health hospital. (And by moderating I mean, typing his answers.)
Make your own kind of Christmas
Create your own Christmas traditions, he said. Remember those from your life who have passed on, honor them and enjoy Christmas in your own way.
To that, I added, slow down everything else. Get the tree up early. Watch Charlie Brown the first time it airs and kick back for the ride.
Oh, and shop online to avoid the crowds. I got Christine's presents ordered early enough to sweat out backorder status, and they've almost all arrived.