Aubrey is coming home for an entire month. I don’t want her to come home to all the same boxes in all the same places as when she left. I want to be able to put a fire in the fireplace and let her curl up on her mamasan chair with my special recipe hot chocolate. That’s extremely difficult to do when there are fifty boxes of crap stacked in front of it.
Fortunately, my organizer is like a Christmas miracle. She’s a tiny little woman in a great big truck, with hair that would make any Irish dancer swoon with jealousy at not having to wear a curly wig. She moves from spot to spot, waving her magical cleaning rag, and suddenly, not only is it clean, all the crap is neatly put away into buckets and bins and placed on shelves. By Monday afternoon, curtains were hung, the chimney was mostly cleared, and all the Christmas stuff is in the living room. I then spent the next two days in bed, unable to move.
While I will try to get the tree up by myself, I will wait for Aubrey before the ornaments go up. Although I know that for some people, those decorator spectacles in all white, or all red, or all red and white are their idea of lovely. Not so for me. It started when my mom didn’t want to hang the ornaments that my sister and I had made over the years. Instead, she wanted a themed tree. The ornaments meant nothing. I swore that I would always hang whatever glittery globbery glue that my children made, be it egg cartons with their pictures inside, God’s eyes, indeterminable animals sculpted from teacher-made clay.
As the kids got older, they stopped making ornaments, so I started getting one for each of us to go in our stockings. Matt’s all-time favorite, yet to be topped, is the knife-wielding gingerbread man, found at a World Market the day before Christmas.
Ron isn’t sentimental, but he loves the classic Pooh. When we found a box of chipboard Pooh characters on train cars, I knew he had to have them, especially since his dad is a train engineer.
I tear up at Hallmark commercials, so it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. Unfortunately, the kids’ father kept all the ornaments from when they were super little, so I have no handmade ornaments from Matt. However, one year, Aubrey had a Christmas party, and I bought a bunch of paint your own picture frame ornaments from Michael’s, and let each girl pick one to paint. At the beginning of the party, I took everyone’s picture (the wretched days of film, indeed), then dropped it off at one hour developing. Then everyone got to put their face in the ornament and take it home. The mom’s all loved them, and the kids just loved the paint and glitter and glue.
This was obviously the Christmas right before Aubrey’s artistic skills kicked in. She’s horrified everytime we pull this one out, but I love it.
For Aubrey, I can’t say that she has a favorite. I think she loves every one of them equally. As she goes through the box, lovingly pulling out each ornament and putting it on the tree, she will recite who made it, who it was for, where we bought it, which vacation, what state. Aubrey is our family oral historian, in more ways than one. She knows what year the cat was born, of all things.
She also reminds me that her stocking is 18 years late. I started it before she was born, and every year, I swear I will finish it. Matt’s was done by his second Christmas. He has a beautifully hand cross-stitched, extremely elaborate stocking with his name on it. For the longest time, Aubrey had a red “velvet” one with her name in silver glitter. We did finally upgrade to pretty stockings, but I know it’s not the same.
This year, it will be hard for her. Isaac made her our tree topper out of some of my chainmaille wire. I don’t know whether to hide it, or leave it be. I will likely leave it be and let her decide. Seeing Isaac’s empty stocking will be heartbreaking, lying flaccid amongst the four of ours, and the three for the pets. Last year was the best Christmas ever, because we were all together; Matt had been living in Colorado the previous year. This year, we are missing one once again, and it is deeply felt.
Knowing that this will be a difficult Christmas for her, my friend Will has thrown his hat in the ring to cheer her. He has promised to take her singin’ and dancin’ (and probably a little drinkin’ thrown in when my back is turned, knowing Will). Next week we will take her to the Riverwalk to see the hanging, glowing piranhas, then we will throw a ton of quarters in the jukebox at the VFW Hall, and dance until she is laughing her ass off at Will’s antics.
She has been texting me with updates at every takeoff and landing, and her excitement is palpable. Or maybe that’s my excitement. Even so, we both agreed that if any soldiers were on standby and trying to get home, she would give up her seat and take a later flight. I know I don’t have to tell her…she would do it anyway.
So with four hours left, it is time for me to publish this and go throw some lights in the bushes, and hope Rico shows up to help with the tree. I still have to make my bed, clean my side of the room (Ron’s is always clean), take out the dirty clothes, vaccuum up the dog hair (I LOVE my DirtDevil stick vac!!!), start a load of dishes, and clear the pictures off the bed where she’ll be sleeping. The bathroom is clean and I have candles burning, making the house smell like frosting. I have fire logs, chocolate chips, whipped cream, chicken and Tony’s Cajun Seasoning…Ron got an entire gallon of milk and two dozen eggs. We have apple jelly and powdered sugar.
Tomorrow, there will be crepes. Tonight, there will be hot chocolate, a fire in the fireplace, Aub’s Chocorgasmic cupcakes in the oven, a tree in the window, and love in the house.
“So, tell me Christmas, are we wise to believe in things we never see? Are prayers just wishes in disguise, and are these wishes being granted me? For now I see, the answering to every prayer I’ve prayed…She’s coming home this Christmas Day”