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In Decorator Colors!

In Decorator Colors!
Barb Szyszkiewicz

Just as I can remember where my grandmother put every last Christmas trinket, basket and statue on her glittered-batting-topped mantelpiece and coffee table, my kids look forward to the day when I bring out the boxes of ornaments and decorations and they can find their favorites.

One of our oldest decorations is an animal carousel set that stretches across a long windowsill, lights up and plays music.  OK, it used to play music.  I confess that I'm not too upset that it no longer plays music.  I don't know how it happened, but I'm grateful that it did.  My youngest child loves that carousel so much that the year he was two, he begged me not to put it away.  It spent the entire year stretched across the top of his dresser.  Every night before he went to sleep he would have to say goodnight to each animal:  tiger, elephant, horses, lion. 

The Christmas tree is easily the most time-consuming of our decorating jobs.  We have an artificial tree, but it's big and full and very prickly.  I wear gloves when I put the lights on this tree.  It takes me a couple of hours just to put the lights on the tree.  After that, I divide the ornaments (breakable ones only get touched by people over four feet tall) and let the kids battle it out decorate the tree.

In this picture you can see what happens when children are allowed free rein to decorate the tree.  Notice the lower left branch that is bending from the weight of half our stash of unbreakable ornaments!  The year this picture was taken, our youngest hung nearly every ornament he was handed on the same branch.  I made my husband resist the temptation to rearrange those after the little guy was asleep.  To me, that was part of the tree's charm.

Now that the older children are getting taller and can reach to the top of the tree, we have the annual Battle of the Penguins.  One of my aunts is good at crafts and used to give each family member an individual handmade ornament each year.  The Big Kids have this little tradition whereby they must find their penguins and battle it out to find the highest place on the tree to hang the penguin.  Last year my older son managed to get that penguin higher than the star on top of the tree.  I'm still not sure how he did that, but the only way he can top that this year would be to suspend it from the ceiling.  (Don't give him any ideas!)

But there's nothing like breaking out the Christmas decorations to make you realize you've been neglecting some little (or big) home-improvement projects.  Dressing your home for the holidays means that you're moving furniture around, exposing those flaws you've kept hidden the other eleven months of the year.

That's never stopped me from enjoying the opportunity to decorate my home.  And my family enjoys the traditions we have made together.


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