For me, decorating the house is as big a task as decorating the tree. I have a lot of great decorations and I always want to put everything out, even though that isn't always possible. I think I do a good job of getting as much out as possible so that, at least on the first floor, there is something Christmas everywhere you turn.
I definitely take cues from Christmases past in my family. Since we didn't have a fireplace in the apartment we grew up in, my mom hung our stocking on the banister going up the stairs. Although Joel and I don't hang stockings, I still decorate our stairs with poinsettias and wrap the banister with soft red ribbon.
Another thing I like to do is change some of the framed pictures on the walls with the seasons. I have a photo of Warren William and friends at a Christmas party hanging at the bottom of the stairs and two sheet musics in the dining room.
MOVIE: One of my favorite television Christmas specials is the Garfield Christmas Special from the year I was born, 1987. I always liked Garfield. I didn’t always understand his sarcasm when I was young, but I have always loved cats, so Garfield was a favorite. This special is great because it is alternately funny and heartwarming. There are many scenes that remind me of my family, like treating the pets to their favorite treats so even they can share in the fun, the rivalry between family members over who can make the best dish, the tendency to cook too much food, the emptiness
SONG: Kelly Clarkson “Underneath the Tree” This is from her new album. I heard it on the radio a few days ago and instantly fell in love. It is one thing to cover the classics, but it makes me very happy when someone writes a new Christmas song to add to my vast collection.
GIFT MEMORY: When I was a teenager, I was involved in a church youth group. We would gather at one of the members’ houses for a big Christmas party each year. We also had a white elephant gift exchange. My mom considers herself to be a thrifty person and one way she cuts expenses at Christmas is by shopping year-round. Although this is a concept I have picked up, she takes it to the extreme, often buying a lot of random stuff simply because it is cheap. I was always embarrassed when it came time to pick a gift because I had to choose from her gift closet, which wasn’t a friendly place for teenagers. After years of reluctantly bringing things no one would ever choose voluntarily, my mom agreed to buy a gift set of popular perfume for the exchange. I came ready, finally not having to hide my face when contributing my gift.
Of course, karma was in full force that year. Another girl brought a Christmas display item, a figural candle of a bear and a penguin riding a metal sled. I feasted my eyes on the various gift cards that were available to steal, hoping to buy a CD or a movie with one. However, I got stuck with the figural candle. What a 13 year old girl wants with something like that, I don’t know, but I stuck it in my closet, hoping someday I would like it. Indeed, eventually that time did come, but by then the sled was tarnished, and I cut my losses and threw it away.