I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. I love it. I love the decorating — filling the house with all my favorite things from Christmases past, laughing and remembering as we put up our ridiculous ornaments, baking, and being with family and friends. But I hate the rushing to try to get everything done and most of all, I hate taking it all down, packing it up and putting it away.
I hate it for a few reasons. Mostly, because it takes time. I’m anal enough to try to wrap each ornament in the same box it came in, if I still have it. I wish I could just be like normal people — throw it all in a box and not worry about it — but I make sure everything is wrapped securely to survive a summer in the heat of a California attic. I also make sure it’s organized so I can easily find things. I sometimes even label the boxes, but not always, because I kind of like the thrill of opening boxes and being surprised at what’s inside.
I also love/hate Christmas because it’s a reminder of the past. With a pang of longing, I still hang things the kids made with their plump little hands in elementary school. I have the green yarn wreath Brandon gave me when he was five or six (his first gift to me), the candle my daughter made me in pre-school, the banner and the reindeer poster my son made in first or second grade and lots more things I’d put up if I had the room.
I have the Fish Shoppe my sister-in-law Donna sent me the first Christmas I couldn’t go home. It’s one of my favorite things — the Christmas season doesn’t begin for us until the Fish Shoppe is lit.
I also have the English fish monger woman I bought with money my dad gave me the last Christmas I got to spend with him. Dad told me to go buy myself something for Christmas because he couldn’t take me shopping. I look at it and smile thinking of him, and remembering all the awesome Christmas Eve’s spent together eating crab and shrimp with my fun, maniacal family.
I also have a pathetic little Christmas tree I bought when we lived with Dad. All my decorations were packed away in a storage locker at that time, so I bought it as a tiny reminder I’d get them back one day.
I have the burlap reindeer my cousin bought me as we window shopped in Beaver, and I still have the ribbons I sewed together for our Christmas tree when I was between traffic reports.
I still even have the homemade felt ornaments I made my very first Christmas in my own apartment. I was poor, so I cut felt into snowmen, holly leaves, candles and stars, sewed them up, and stuffed them with toilet paper. I can’t believe they’re 40 years old!
I also have the ornaments we made the year we were really poor and couldn’t afford gifts. I wanted to show my kids you can have as good a Christmas with little money as you can with a lot.
One of my favorite poverty ornaments is Sputnick. My son took a styrofoam ball and stuck toothpicks in it. We laughed until we were completely silly over it. And every time I see it, it makes me smile. (I recently replaced a few of the toothpicks that had broken, but I think Andy will have to make some adjustments, I’m not the artist he is.) The homemade ornaments are a good reminder that our Christmases may not all be rich, but as long as we have each other and a good sense of humor, they’ll still be fun.
I think the other thing I hate about putting all my things away is the unknowing. What will change in a year? Will I still be living here when I open these boxes next December? What will my life be like? Will I be happy? Who’ll be here and who won’t?
Each year I whisper a little wish into the boxes that next year will be better, and that all my loved ones will be happy and healthy, and that includes you, my wonderful readers.
Happy New Year!
lafridayFebruary 18, 2017 at 9:12 pm
I am a little behind the times, dear Fran. I hope 2017 is the best year of your life and brings you much joy and all the right kind of serenity (with a little bit of pure kick-ass fun thrown in). Love you!
Chris TunnoJanuary 12, 2017 at 12:05 pm
I have made my Christmas decorations possible to be dismantled in 10 minutes. It’s awful, but it leaves no moment for senntimental ties. January is so depressing. How was I ever born in this month?
Fran TunnoJanuary 22, 2017 at 11:42 am
You are too funny Chris. At least you have decorations, so clearly you have the sentimental gene in there! Maybe you’re not old enough to be as sentimental as me. I know, January can be depressing, but is also good for starting fresh, so don’t be too hard on your birth month. Speaking of which, I better mail those seven layer cookies that have been in the freezer since you left! Happy Early Birthday! xo
Mary J TunnoJanuary 12, 2017 at 7:49 am
Nice to read Fran & nice to also read Joann’s comments about the visits years ago! I remember those visits! 🙂
Fran TunnoJanuary 22, 2017 at 11:39 am
Thanks! I remember them vaguely, a snippet here and there. Most of what I remember is from old photos I’ve seen, but I do have some memories. They were great days! Thanks for always reading.
Petrea BurchardJanuary 11, 2017 at 8:01 pm
What a lovely post, Fran. You make me realize that I can have Christmas too, even if I can’t afford presents. Some years I don’t even get the ornaments out. But this year, at least we hung up the lights.
Fran TunnoJanuary 22, 2017 at 11:38 am
You totally can Petrea! I’ve found that the poverty Christmases are often the best ones. One year I wrote stupid poems for everyone and spent 5 bucks or less on a silly gift. People loved them! When I was in college, we found a tree top and decorated it with popcorn and colored cotton balls, (we colored them with food coloring). It was ridiculous, but so much fun! You have to embrace the poverty and just have fun.
JoAnn JonesJanuary 11, 2017 at 8:00 pm
Love you, Fran, and your wonderful stories. I have fond memories of the many Christmas times our family spent in Pa, coming by train from Union Station in St Louis. We laughed, ate all kinds of food your mom prepared, none of our families were rich but we all loved being together. I will always treasure those memories.
Fran TunnoJanuary 22, 2017 at 11:34 am
Awww JoAnn, I remember too (some things anyway) . I remember you and Bernie dancing in the living room when you were both teenagers. I think we have a photo of it somewhere. I also remember being in a car, waiting somewhere in the cold for some reason, and the song “Calcutta,” was on the radio. Your dad loved that song, and I heard him humming along to it and tapping his fingers. What a sweet man he was. Thanks for always reading and taking the time to comment. Happy New Year!
Chas MadonioJanuary 11, 2017 at 10:34 am
Well said. Christmas brings memories flowing back each year, and putting the Christmas things away in January brings pause for thought about the coming year. Hope your 2017 is a good year and that we will all still be here to talk about it next Christmas. Happy New Year.
Fran TunnoJanuary 11, 2017 at 7:45 pm
Oh Chas, I wish you, Nancy and the family the best this year. And yes, let’s all plan to be here next year this time!!! xoxoxox
DeniceJanuary 11, 2017 at 7:36 am
Aw, Fran, I just loved reading this … my tree and decorations just came down yesterday, and I had the same thoughts: what will this year bring, when all this loveliness comes alive again at the end of it? This year will undoubtedly bring both joy and pain, but we can dance through the joy and grow from the pain, is what I hope. I wish you a wondrous New Year, filled with hope and love!
Fran TunnoJanuary 11, 2017 at 7:44 pm
Awww Denice, you are so wise. I must remember, pain is growth…pain is growth…pain is growth!!! Happy New Year sweet girl!
Fran TunnoJanuary 11, 2017 at 7:09 am
Thank you Nicol. You are the sweetest. Hopefully, next year we will have time to celebrate together! That would be pretty wonderful and would definitely make my smile much brighter! Lets have coffee when you have time!
NicolJanuary 11, 2017 at 1:08 am
Actually, Fran, it sounds like you are doing it all just right. The true meaning of it all is clearly with you, for richer and poorer, better and worse. You are the Christmas spirit. May this year be truly wonderful for you, and when it comes time to open the boxes again in twelve months, may you be feeling great and smiling brightly xoxo