“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped in each other.” ~ Burton Hillis
William E. (“Bill”) Vaughan (October 8, 1915 – February 25, 1977) was an American columnist and author. Born in Saint Louis, Missouri, he wrote a syndicated column for the Kansas City Star from 1946 until his death in 1977. He was published in Reader’s Digest and Better Homes and Gardens under the pseudonym Burton Hillis. ~ Wikipedia
I absolutely love Christmas, and I always have. I love the cool air with the clear night skies, the lights, the gaily decorated homes, and Christmas music. They say Christmas is for kids, and that is mostly true, but I know a lot of adults who happen to like it too. I guess that just makes me a big kid, because that’s so true when it comes to me and Christmas. I started our lights at the house yesterday. I had stored all the inside and outside Christmas decorations in the storage room above the garage last year, which is great because in our old home in South Surrey the only place I had to store them was under the crawl space. This year I didn’t have to bend and contort my body and do a poor impression of a contortionist thanks to this old body of mine with my osteo arthritic knees that can’t take that anymore. Going up and down the ladder was a lot harder this year thanks to my knees, but at least that’s all that’s complaining this morning as I sit and write this post. I got all the carefully stored storage bins down from the garage attic, assembled it all on the garage floor, and took a moment to be proud of myself and the job I had done last year putting it all away. When we moved to Parksville in April of last year I had purchased all of these fantastic 120 litre black and yellow storage boxes for the move, and after the move I ended up using them to store and label all the inside Christmas decorations. All the stuff on the right in the picture above are the outside decorations with the house lights in two clear boxes with the black lids, and all the electrical paraphernalia I need are in the clear box with the red lid. I rubbed my hands together, and Brenda kindly brought me a coffee and Bailey’s to start the task. I usually leave having a couple of coffees with Bailey’s till after I am done, but this year I limited myself to just the one before beginning so I would get all the lights straight. I hate crooked lights! After about three hours, I stepped back and surveyed the job, and I patted myself on the back. The lights along the eaves were nice and straight and standing at attention in preparation for their task at hand, and the garland with the mini lights was straight and aligned along the tops of the front windows and the garage door. I took a chance this year though, because I strung all the lights and the twinkling garland before checking to make sure they all worked, Christmas lights are notorious for not working the next year. It seems that every year I have done lights I have one or two sets that stop working for whatever reason. But, after setting up my power station and timer, I held my breath, and flipped the switch … Success! Whew! Everything was working as it was supposed to. I then began the low work and set up the Frosty we had bought to have for Penèlope when she and Chelsea came at Christmas last year from Malta. I plugged Frosty in and all seemed well with him so I set about anchoring his base so he would stay put. I then began stringing the first of two strings of mini rice lights around the dwarf evergreen behind Frosty. I strung the lower set around the bottom of the evergreen, carefully and somewhat painfully weaving the strings in and out between the branches as I worked my way up the little tree. I got the second set of mini rice lights, plugged it into the first, and once again carefully and painfully weaved the lights in and out of the needled branches. It was THEN that I strung the extension cord back to the outside receptacle and my power station, carefully burying the extension cord beneath the flower bed as I went. I plugged in the extension cord, and went back to finish by arranging and repositioning the lights around the dwarf evergreen. What a mistake! Wouldn’t you just know it! The bottom string on the little tree was only half lit. So I ended up taking all the mini rice lights off the little tree and decided that it would have to do without this year, Besides, lights on the little tree behind Frosty wouldn’t have looked as good behind him. For Frosty or the tree. The end result ended up pretty good, if I do say so myself though. Especially when you consider the problems there could have been if I’d had problems with the lights on the eaves and in the garland if they hadn’t worked. I dodged the proverbial bullet this time! Except, now as I look at this picture of the finished product I can see that I need to do a little rearranging of the lights in the branches of the garland on the right side of the window on the left. It looks like the lights may be stuck behind the branches a bit and it doesn’t look as balanced as I would like it to. No biggie, though, and an easy fix later tonight …
Christmas is going to be quiet around here this year with no Penèlope and no Chelsea coming from Malta. It’s just too expensive to fly all this way for only a couple of weeks. We had so much fun last year with P and Chelsea. Christmas would have been all the more difficult last year last after Mom passed away, but having P around with those big wide eyes and the magic of Christmas really helped both Brenda and I to really get into the season. When P and Chelsea got here we decorated a small three and a half-foot pre-lit tree that Papa bought for P so she could have her own tree to decorate. After she carefully (?) placed her small ornaments that we had bought just for her tree it was leaning a little left. Kind of like a rogue Republican. We baked cookies together, and we also made a gingerbread house. That’s me and P after we had decorated the cookies that Gramma baked. Gramma got the hard part and P and I got the easy part and got to decorate them. It was such fun. We’ll miss taking P to Santa this year too. Last year, as we were wandering through the mall in Nanaimo, we came across Santa, and he wasn’t busy at that moment, so we asked P if she wanted to go and see him and tell him what she wanted for Christmas. She didn’t hesitate at all! In previous years she would break out crying the minute she got near the guy, but not last year. This Santa was amazing! P even let Santa hold her favorite Paw Patrol character, Sky. Santa last year made a huge impact on her, and us as well. Brenda and I saw his little winter wonderland at the Nanaimo mall again a couple of weeks ago and all those great memories from last Christmas came flooding back. It made both Brenda and I a little sad that we wouldn’t be seeing her and Chelsea this Christmas. Last year we also got the chance to ring in the New Year with P and Chelsea, and Jennifer and Jesse, who had come over on the ferry from Vancouver. We took a planned trip down to Victoria, and Chelsea and Jennifer had arranged for us all to stay at the Empress in Victoria on New Years Eve. It was a wonderful and thoughtful gift. We got all dressed up, and P was in her finest little white faux fur coat. Part of the evening included a trip to a fantastic restaurant where Chelsea and Jennifer and Jesse treated all of us to a wonderful new Year’s Eve dinner. Afterwards we went to see the Grinch gingerbread display upstairs at the Empress. Penèlope was very impressed!
We’re so thankful Penèlope and Chelsea could come last year. We’re going to miss them terribly this year, but we have such great memories having them here with us last year for Christmas. Thank goodness for FaceTime, but it’s still not the same. But isn’t that what Christmas is about? Having the good fortune to have your family around you at Christmas, having old memories to reflect upon, and then making the new ones.
Whoever you are, I hope you put up lights too, and that you have good memories from previous Christmases just like we do.
Until next time,