Friday, December 17, 2010

Sandra Boynton's Christmastime (Part Two)

Chapter One
Decking the Halls

A Consumer Tip:  A tree looks much smaller outdoors than indoors.  Be sure to measure both your ceiling height and your prospective tree before you buy it.  --Sandra Boynton

Chapter One of Christmastime is all about, you guessed it, decorating for the holidays.   It is divided into two sections:  "Getting the House Ready," and "Selecting a Tree."  Boynton is of the opinion that Christmastime in the home begins when a family decorates their house.  She posits that the three most common start dates for this activity are:

The day after Thanksgiving:  Boynton cites this as the most common starting point for putting up Christmas decorations.  As far as my memory holds, Boynton's book predates the rise of Black Friday, which seems to have cemented the institution of starting the Christmas season right after Thanksgiving is over.  She definitely was on the right track with this one.  We may not have gotten our decorations up the day after Thanksgiving (heck, we still don't have lights up), but we certainly did get the boxes down out of the attic that day.

December 1:  This is credited as the choice of families who are governed by logic rather than emotion, or at least parents who are more governed by logic.  Boynton freely admits that the ceremonial hanging of the Advent calendar, and the opening of door number one will more often than not be followed by a sneak preview of the next twenty-four doors.  I have to say, having once had  Lego Advent calendar, I was hard-pressed not to jump ahead of myself and assemble all of the kits at one time once I had started!

Christmas Eve:  Here Boynton suggests that this is the avenue for "staunch traditionalists," and that these folks have a better shot at truly grasping the spirit of Christmas.  Even if the children in these households are not so appreciative of the "tradition."

I wish I could share with you all of the wonderful illustrations accompanying these observations, Boynton truly is an artist.  She manages to convey the joy of the season as well as the daily frustrations that are often a side effect of such preparations.

She goes on to say that regardless of the when of the start to the season, once entered, each individual or family has their own unique way of displaying that spirit.  From elegant minimalism to outright gaudy, Christmastime is what we make of it.  Whether it is a task one goes about joyfully or begrudgingly, getting the home ready for Christmas is something that the whole family can get involved in together--and that alone is the best way to kick off the season that I can think of.

In the "Selecting a Tree" section of the chapter, Boynton notes the trend toward seeking out alternatives to real trees and suggests some of the most common choices:  careful lighting and decoration, plastic trees, the inflatable tree (not suggested for houses with cats), the living Christmas tree, or even just decorating a tree that is still planted firmly in the ground.

She then goes on to list the qualities one should look for in a real tree if that does end up being the route you choose.  Then she points out that, of course, this perfect tree doesn't actually exist.

I have to admit, while I am still as tickled as ever by her descriptions (and illustrations) of alternatives to real trees, I don't have much experience in this area and so couldn't tell you how relevant this part of the chapter remains today.  Hubby and I haven't had a Christmas tree in the whole eight years we've been together.  There was a feeble attempt the first year, but our cat (Wally) knocked the thing over repeatedly every day for a week before we gave up and packed it away (it was a fake tree).  Since then it just hasn't been worth the bother.  Of course, now, with Baby Girl in the picture, things are going to have to change.  We discussed this recently, actually, and have decided that next year is the year that we will venture into the wide world of Christmas-tree buying.  We are definitely going to get a real tree, and I have a corner picked out for it, so hopefully that will minimize Wally and Tony (and Baby Girl's) chances of knocking it over.  We shall see though, we shall see.  Either way, I am sure it will give this chapter a whole new perspective for me!

Monday:  Christmas Greetings
Update:  I almost forgot, new Gronk today!  Check it out!  Also, yes, I know SGU got canceled yesterday.  I am waiting to talk (and think, really) about that until after Christmas.

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