Decorating Grandma’s Christmas tree

Maria begged me to come home early last night so we could decorate the Christmas tree. I made her day when I pulled in the driveway on my bike at 5:10. Although I was still talking to my work colleague, Ri jumped in my arms and whispered “thank you thank you!” With that kind of welcome, I will come home early any day. She dragged me in the house and down the steps to retrieve Grandma Menkedick’s Christmas tree standing upright in the cardboard box under the stairs. Jon would rather have a “live” tree and I would, too but I also love having something of Grandma’s so central in our house. I know that she would be proud that her tree continues to grace our living room because she always loved for me to tell her that we put it up in years’ past when she was still with us. She loved contributing in that way. And the kids love helping to resurrect it each year.
Sophie was over when we started piecing it together. She commented that it doesn’t look like a Christmas tree and Ri immediately jumped in on Grandma’s behalf.
“Just wait until we get all the branches in place. Then you will change your mind.”
And she was right. After we inserted all the branches and flushed it out in accordance with the instructions found on the original tethered but legible, delicate piece of brown paper, it looked just like a baby fir you’d find at a tree lot. Pure magic.
After that task was completed, we ran up to the attic in a mad rush to find the boxes of ornaments ranging in age of creation from 40 years to last year. Maria and Mario teamed up to lug down one box and I lugged the other. Rocco followed behind us trying to nose his way to the front of the line (which he eventually accomplished even with Mario yelling “No, Rocco!”). Maria and her sentimental self reached in to the box and pulled out an ornament that I had bought for my grandma in 1978. Mario went to grab it and she scolded him: “this is a prized possession of mom’s so you have to be gentle.” Meanwhile, Rocco gave us all heart attacks with his barreling under the tree and shaking the ornaments. However, he only broke one which is the same number I broke.


The kids took some down time from ornament hanging and ornament admiring in order to play “hide-the-pickle” (No, it’s not some inappropriate adult game). We have an ornament that Uncle Jack gifted me in the shape of a pickle because I love pickles so much. The kids made up a game two Christmas’ ago where they hide the pickle ornament somewhere on the tree and the other kid has to find it. Loads of fun for hours! Sophie won by hiding it in such a snug place in the middle of the tree that both Ri and Mario gave up.
Finally, after the pickle game ended and the ornaments were hung, Mario placed the blue star on the top of the tree. Ri has let him do it every year because she loves to see how excited he gets when she says “ok, you can do it” (plus she gets to photograph it).

And so, another year of Christmas tree decoration is complete… unless Rocco decides to wrestle the tree and all of its ornaments. But I think he even feels Grandma’s spirit because after a few swipes at it, he laid down to rest by its side.

We closed!

Maria showing off the house and Mario protecting it!

We did it! 

We closed on our new house at 10 am yesterday morning.  The sellers handed us the keys and the garage opener and wished us a happy life in the house they had lived in for 12 years.  The closing is a strange ordeal with a closing agent at the head of the table, Jon and I and our realtor on one side and the sellers and their realtor on the other and our bank representative at the other head of the table.  Papers fly across the table for you to sign and the print is so small there is no way to read it all unless you want to hold up the 6 other people in the room all day.  Besides, not like our bank or the title agency would change anything if I pointed to a clause I wanted to bargain.  They would chuckle and say “Good try” and that would be it.  Anyway, what’s not to trust about our bank?!  How could they try to do anything but be our buddy? 

My favorite appliance - the fridge!

Jon and I walked out of the closing feeling excited but a little sticker-shocked.  Nothing like having two mortgages to wake ya up to smell the coffee.  I was still fighting the sticker shock when we drove over to the new house.  I wanted to feel you were supposed to feel when you buy a new house – elated, on cloud nine, speechless.  Jon was near those emotions; why couldn’t I be?  We left and went back to work.  When I got home, the kids ran up to me and yelled about going to the new house.  Jon had told them we could head over.  I put on a smile and got changed.  I still felt ambivalent. 

The kids jumped out of the car and ran towards the front door.  They burst into the house and ran around the living room and family room.  They rolled on the floors.  They darted up the stairs to the bedrooms and the attic.  They loved everything.  As I watched them, I started to feel excited.  I let go of all of my worries about selling our current house, money, expenses and just let myself breathe in our new home.  The reasons for buying the house flooded my mind – holiday gatherings,

On the steps of the basement - their new playroom!

the go-to house for the kids’ friends, resting spot for traveling family and friends.  When I went to bed last night, I felt more relaxed and welcoming to our new home.  Today I met with Meg to discuss paint colors and carpet for the house.  She has a decorator’s eye, and we came away with some kick a—colors for the downstairs and ideas for the rooms.  When I rode my bike back to work, I caught myself smiling nearly the whole way, and thinking about how beautiful our new home would be and how great it would be to have our family and friends over to create a lifetime of memories.