Decorating the house always goes in phases. This year complicated first by me having some bad gout at the end of November and a few days into December (just before my doctor agreed that we should treat this more aggressively, so now I’m on meds for it), second by knowing that the front door was going to be replaced (so I didn’t want to put up wreaths), third by the theft of some outdoor lights, fourth because when I’m doing Christmas shopping I always find new things that fit the theme…
Also, my husband had several ornaments he’d ordered to surprise me with. One of which was the present from him that I opened at the annual giant holiday party with friends. It’s definitely in keeping with the Vegas theme of this year’s tree. Before the party, he had expressed some anxiety about the present. I interpreted it that he wasn’t sure he had grabbed the right box (since once they’re wrapped you sometimes forget which thing is in which box). Then after the party, and after we’d cleaned up the hotel room and returned home, he asked if I wanted to open another present. Because the present at the party had been the glitter-festooned Las Vegas sign, I thought he was hinting that another present under the tree was another ornament, and I might want it up on the tree for a few days before Christmas.
It turned out he was worried that I would think, somehow, that the ornament wasn’t much of a gift. Which is silly. First, any gift that’s sincerely given is wonderful. That’s the whole point. But the bigger issue, for me, is my hubby giving me an ornament. Our first Christmas living together, I was trying to plot out what to do with the tree theme. It was the second Christmas after the death of my first husband, Ray. Ray had loved Christmas even more than me, which is saying quite a lot. And he had chosen a color scheme for the next Christmas, which I hadn’t used (since I barely did any decorating the first year after he died), but he’d only gotten so far as picking colors and buying some ornaments in those colors at the previous year’s after-Christmas sales.
So I had colors, and some ornaments, but I was having trouble figuring out what to do with them. Whenever I brought it up to Michael, he barely replied. I wasn’t completely sure why. I eventually confessed that his lack of response was stressing me out a bit. It turned out that given his previous experiences with Christmas—him being a gay pagan growing up in rural Oklahoma surrounded by bible-thumpers—whenever I mentioned Christmas decoration, he had visions of manger scenes and angels and little baby Jesus’ everywhere. Which made him feel uncomfortable, to say the least. Whereas, the entire reason I was trying to get some opinions out of him was because it was his home, too, and I didn’t want to make him live with stuff he didn’t like.
Somehow, despite all the conversations we’d had about my own bad experiences being rejected by the church family I’d grown up with, and my love of science and so forth, it hadn’t quite sunk in with him that when I said “Christmas” I merely meant bright lights and ho-ho-ho and jingle bells.
So our first Christmas tree together was a Solstice tree in burgundy and silver. A color combination that we used to portray a slightly non-traditional night sky to commemorate the longest night in the year. He transformed from an unenthusiastic non-participant to a silver-spraypaint and hot-glue gun wielding fiend. He made scores of silver moon and star ornaments to hang on the tree. He help me make an enormous silver crescent moon to hang on the wall. We were finding moon and star decorations.
And even though he has been a very active participant in all of the years since (coming up with some of the best themes—Christmas From the Future!, Gaslight/Steampunk Christmas, the Sun Will Come Back, My Little Pony—I still remember that initial reluctance. And I recognize that I can get more than a little crazy about the decorating. It can’t be easy living with me when I’m in the middle of stressing out because the lights don’t look right and I’ve unwound and rewound the strings on the tree three times, now!
So any contributions he makes I take as an extra special gift. He’s enabling my wild, irrational impulses. He’s putting up with me transforming the house into a tacky, light-invested merry extravaganza.
So I love the glittery Vegas ornament. It’s perfect!