Friday, December 14, 2007

Not all about shoulders.

"M" (presumably not for "murder") asked, "How many days left for the sling?"

The best case scenario is 26.

Yes, Twenty. Six.

That is because I am supposed to wear it until I see my surgeon again, which happens 4-6 weeks after the post-operative appointment. And because in my carefuly planning around the academic calendar I forgot about the Christian and federal holiday calendars, four weeks would be Christmas, five weeks would be New Year's, and so it is January 9 that I see him.


But that's not what I came to tell you about.

I came to talk about decorating Christmas trees. (Though I will take this moment to note that you would be surprised to what extent you use two hands hanging Christmas ornaments....)

I am not sure how you store your ornaments, if you store ornaments, but last year anyway, we seemed to organize ours by material. In one box are all the really fragile ornaments, made of glass or porcelain or stonewear, and most of them have their own little boxes and stashes of tissue paper or bubble wrap, or else they are wrapped in disintegrating Kleenex and stored in a plastic baggy. Then there are all the little crocheted ornaments, mostly made for me by the mother of some childhood friends, and along with those are a few cotton-stuffed felt ornaments with zigzagging and sequins and cotton balls affixed to represent ornamentation or lights or Santa's beard. The wooden ones are all in their little group, though I wonder sometimes whethere there is a yearlong feud between the flat ones and the ones with little moving arms and legs (I bet on the latter every time). Also, we have a sizable stash of homemade ornaments that are covered with gemlike beads: these all have their own box.

Ricketiest of all are the baked cookie-like ornaments that we made back in the mid-1970s. I only have a few of those, since most of them live with my parents, but the ones I have are mostly the same: a cut-out shape decorated with special magic markers, then with a paperclip glued to the back as the hanging apparatus. In most cases, the glue or the dough has caused the paperclips to rust, sometimes to the point they have broken apart. The ones my mother decorated still look really nice. The ones I decorated have a sort of abstract expressionist quality, but cut me some slack--I was four or five at the time! And one lesson we cannot seem to get through our heads: do not wrap these ornaments in Kleenex if you do not want Kleenex-adorned ornaments on your tree.

Somewhere, apparently with my parents' stash, is a black Christmas tree, that my father "decorated" during the Vietnam War. And similarly, there is a round one decorated with a peace symbol.

Our more recent acquisitions tend to gesture to people's hobbies and recent experiences. We have several rock-climbing Santas and a climbing shoe, as well as a little skier with the PP's name on it. There is a pair of cats wearing snorkels and diving masks and seeming to be chasing fish, as well as a female swimmer on a diving block. There is a trout commemorating some beautiful meals my Mother made us in France. And yes, there is a Santa decked out all in Spartan green. Thanks, Dad.

Lowest on our tree go the unfragile ornaments. (Have I mentioned that we have two cats?) These were mostly made by me, in school. There is one made of red burlap with a Christmas-card picture of Santa on it, adorned in some glitter. There is a big ball made from circles cut from Christmas cards (can you sense a theme?). There is a wooden snowman.

Because we have had accidents. For instance, about 4 years ago, some cat or another brought the thing down (or could you have sworn that it might have been both?). I do not know if anyone heard it happen, but when people emerged from sleeping, there was the tree, lying diagonally across the living room floor, with numerous glass and pottery shards around it.

Now we wire it to a window frame and a doorjam.

That mostly protects things, though it did nothing for the wooden penguin that took a foot-severing dive early this morning, bringing a felted Santa with it.

Truth be told, that was only one of many penguins. Too many to count, really. This all started some years back, after people came to learn about my fascination with things polar. (Especially narratives about polar exploration and dogsledding!) Then the penguins started appearing. First it was an ornament or two, then a few plush toys, or a book, or even a large light-up porch ornament, or a DVD of March of the Penguins, and then an entire string of lights adorned with penguins! Those were supposed to be Christmas decorations, but we decided to keep them up all year, and here is why:

Some years back I was at the meat market of my profession and I was walking into a hotel with an admittedly surly colleague. If you have spent time in big hotels during the holidays, then you know that they typically have big Christmas-oriented displays in their lobbies. In this particular hotel was a North Pole scene, complete with Santa, elves, polar bears, and penguins. Being the polar expert that I fancied myself to be, I said to my colleague, "Hey! Penguins don't live at the North Pole!" He sort of snorted back at me and said, "Neither does fucking Santa."


Joe said...

Surly indeed!

MartyTheFool said...


Whadda you mean Santa doesn't live at the north pole????

Did he move and not tell us?

Sheesh, I was just talking to him last week, and he didn't mention a thing about it.

Always glad to see you posting, and nice to hear about your progress.

Have some good ole' holidays!