Hey, it’s easy to have fun when you have a lot of, y’know, things to have fun with. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy having lots of really cool stuff such as fancy clothes, a nice car, or a genuine pair of rocket boots? I mean, c’mon!
The thing is, the opposite can be just as true. You can truly have a lot of fun with very little. Hey, just ask the average little kid who has less fun with the toy than the box it came in. It’s mainly a matter of attitude.
Yeah, I’m always thinkin’ (sound of grinding gears) along these lines at this time of year, and it happens ‘cause of the Main Event. See, around these here parts, and more specifically our house, the Main Event is the annual Setting Up The Christmas Tree (sound of cheering).
The Main Event
Now, in a normal year, our tree makes its customary appearance like clockwork on the day after Thanksgiving. Although last year, in a rather daring and unprecedented move, we set it up the weekend before, thanks to a combination of Thanksgiving-day family get-togethers. (Mrs. MZM decorated the bare tree with a few pumpkins and some colorful leaves, just so it wouldn’t feel neglected and lonely. She’s such a sweetheart.)
Unfortunately, this year we got off to a kinda slow start – but I think we’ll leave that tale for another day. Suffice it to say, for the first time in quite a while, our tree didn’t get put up until the weekend AFTER Thanksgiving. (Oh the humanity! It was like… uh, like… darkness settled upon the land, and voices of young children cried softly in the night… Or something.)
Anyhoo, over the years we’ve amassed quite a collection of decoratin’ stuff, thanks to having traveled so much. We’ve got, let’s see, your typical spherical ornaments in various sizes and colors, some fairly old ornaments from Mrs. MZM’s childhood, as well as a veritable plethora of assorted little figures of angels, stars, etc. There are also things that fall into the “greenery” category (although most of them aren’t actually green but gold, silver or whatever). Finally (and these are my favorites), we have about a zillion glass icicles of various and sundry designs.
As I place each of the aforementioned items on the tree (I’m the designated tree trimmer in our household; Mrs. MZM does the rest of the house), I can’t help but reminisce about some of my own past Christmases, and the trees my family had back then. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s amazing how the decorations have changed over time.
An Old-Fashioned Christmas
OK, back to my initial point.
One year – I guess I was about 8 or 9 years old – my family decided that we would have an “old-fashioned Christmas” and cover our tree with nothing but hand-made decorations that year. Looking back, I realize it was a way for the family to economize, but issues like that were “above my pay grade”, if you get my meanin’. ‘Course, my sister and I didn’t notice that little detail; we were ecstatic because it meant we pretty much got to make everything ourselves! Definitely an “Oooh, shiney!” moment.
So – what’s the one essential ingredient to making homemade old-fashioned decorations? Why, popcorn, of course! Needless to say, this was gonna be a cinch. We immediately made, oh, about a barrel of popcorn (you have to make allowances for, er, attrition, if you follow me) and gathered all the necessary materials: brightly colored wrapping paper, karo syrup, and lots and lots of string.
Luckily, making popcorn decorations is really easy. With the paper you make cone-shaped baskets for holding loose popcorn. And, popcorn balls are easy to make with Karo syrup, don’cha know. The most fun, though was making endless strings of popcorn for garlands. Put ‘em all together and voila! you have an old-fashioned Christmas tree! Yeehaw!
Imagine, if you will, a veritable tornado of excited activity (accompanied by appropriate Christmas music, of course) surrounding a Christmas tree, and you’ll have a pretty good image of our decorating effort that afternoon. Within hours, it was finished!
I’ll tell ya; I’ve never forgotten the fun we had that Christmas. Imagine – nothing fancy, no expensive (or even cheap) ornaments, just popcorn, paper and string. What a great lesson for us as children – that we could have that much fun with so little. I’ve never forgotten it.
So what about you? Care to share a similar time in your Christmas past?
By all means, you’re welcome to pop it in the comment box below. Don’t worry; I’ll leave the light on for ya!
By the way, the story doesn’t quite end there.
Once the excitement finally died down and the (inevitable) mess cleaned up, what was left of the day proceeded as usual. Around 5:30 or so, Dad got home from work; Mom (bless her heart) had dinner ready by six. Naturally, conversation during most of mealtime was about the fun we had making the decorations and trimming the tree.
Suddenly, we heard a soft, sorta swish sound coming from the living room. It stopped conversation dead, it was so unexpected. My sister was closest to the door to the living room, so she sneaked up to the door and peeked around the corner.
Did the Christmas tree fall over? Was Santa early? Or maybe it was a burglar, breaking in to steal those incredibly wonderful decorations we’d worked so hard on. I’m tellin’ ya, I was ready to jump up and defend them to the death!
Surprisingly, though, as soon as she got her head around the corner she started laughing. So, no burglar. At least, not exactly.
Apparently, we had completely forgotten about the cat.
Yep; in our absence, the cat (Napoleon Solo – named after the then-popular TV show, The Man From Uncle. Hey, what can I say?) had discovered all those delectable decorations and had climbed into the tree (knocking a few things off in the process) to partake of the feast thereof.
Who knew cats liked popcorn?
Photo credit: Popcorn Strings, by flavouredechoes