Always a miscellaneous. Always things that you just can’t categorize. The OCD cataloging librarian in me is having fits because everything belongs somewhere, somewhere…
Putting up decorations was always fun. Dad was in charge of the lights outside. We usually bought some pine swag when we got the tree, and he’d carefully wrap little lights around it and drape it around the porch roof. We even had a star that went up on the roof. We had lights for the trees, to go around the door, for the eaves (with swag, of course), but not really over the top like you’d think of over the top. We didn’t twinkle, we didn’t set anything to music, we just had swag and lights framing the house. I always thought it was very pretty and tasteful. At the end of the 12th days of Christmas, Dad took it all down and bagged each strand of lights in a zip top baggie, labeling each bag carefully for where the lights went (front bushes, window, door, etc.). I found a couple of those bags a few years ago, but the problem is we moved often enough that I have no idea which house the notes refer to!
Inside the house, we were pulling decorations out of the boxes, remembering each one, deciding where to put them and then running around the house putting things everywhere. By they time we were done, it looked like Christmas had thrown up all over our house. My sister and I had Christmas tree night lights, there was fake swag on the banister with lights woven through it, candy dishes, Christmas magnets for the fridge, candles and soaps in the bathrooms, Christmas books on the coffee table, and so on and so on. Christmas insanity. But somehow it never felt overwhelming to us kids. After the 12th day of Christmas, we would help gather everything up and put it in the living room to be boxed up again. We didn’t help put it in the boxes, but we did help gather it.
As a family, we also had a contest. Who could find the last decoration. Whomever did won the glory of being able to gloat that they found it. I think Mom is the all time record holder, finding a Christmas decoration in JULY! Yeah, she wins. Bah humbug.
I do “holiday” cards because they either get done and mailed out around Thanksgiving or not until after Christmas. Just the way life goes. As an (apparently perpetual) student and someone that works in an academic environment, the first few weeks in December are insane…finals, end of the semester, etc. Cards just aren’t a priority…finishing the 15 page research paper is. And doing cards is a complicated endeavor. The past few years I’ve had so much going on I’ve written the proverbial “newsletter” because otherwise my hand would fall off trying to write in each card. There’s also verifying addresses (cross checking with last year’s cards, searching e-mails for updated addresses I haven’t written down yet, etc.) and updating my address label file. Then there’s finding cards you like. For me, that means non-denominational happy holidays cards. Admittedly I do try to buy them during the after Christmas sale for the next year because they get expensive when you’re buying more than 2 boxes. Finally, there’s doing the actual cards. This means labeling and stamping the envelope, writing in the card, folding and stuffing in the note, and licking all those envelopes. Hopefully the envelope glue tastes good…but make sure you have a glass of water (or wine, or cider, or whatever your little heart desires) handy.
Some people have a check list for their cards. It looks like a spreadsheet with columns for years they check off if cards were sent and received. And if they don’t get a card from someone for so many years, they stop sending them cards. I’m not one of those people. I’m probably organized enough, but it’s just too much work and I don’t care if you send me a card or not. I’ll probably send you one even if you never send me a card. Some people just don’t do cards. I get that, and I don’t hold it against you. As long as you don’t hold it against me for those years I just don’t get cards done.