Saturday, December 22, 2007

Our First Christmas in the RV: Still Keeping Holiday Stories Alive

The most striking difference between Christmas in an RV versus Christmas in a house comes down to simplicity of decorations.

In a house, my decorating began on Thanksgiving Day. After everybody settled into that “full belly lull” and the mountain of dishes and leftovers were put away, I would start. The easy to spot red plastic containers with overlapping, interlocking green lids came down the attic pull stairs first. Next, I’d slide the boxed evergreen Christmas tree down the incline stairs damning it when the corner would catch on the slat of a step and need to be wiggled free before descending the full stairs to the garage floor. Finally, I’d scout for those assorted bags and boxes of stuff that either would not fit in the easily distinguishable red and green boxes or had been overlooked in the previous year’s clean-up of Christmas stuff and I had just set the stuff loosely about the attic.

My daughter Suzie would just groan and roll her eyes when I’d tell her visiting friends how much fun they would have helping to put up the tree. Ed would get up from laying on the living room couch and exit to the bedroom to watch TV saying, “Call me when you want me to take pictures.”

Hours later, the tree would be up decorated with the assorted ornaments. The tree always took hours because we’d reminisce about the story behind each ornament…the brass Cathedral of Learning symbolic of my favorite building at PITT, Suzie’s baby picture with her hair standing up like grass on Hallmark’s Baby’s First Christmas picture frame ornament, pearl beaded bells and stars handmade by Grandma Edith’s arthritic fingers, Pope John Paul II aka “Pope on a Rope”, and Christopher’s Oscar the Grouch peaking out of the garbage can, a happy meal souvenir.

Angels on the mantle, wreaths on the door, lights on the porch, holiday towels in the bathrooms, and my assorted collection of snowmen everywhere, Christmas music playing, and Santa hats on our heads… “Suzie, call Dad. We are ready for the camera.”

This year, the house belongs to someone else and the red and green boxes are stored in my Mom’s basement. We donated the Christmas tree to Goodwill because at our June garage sale, no one wanted to buy it. And, we are in our RV, just Ed and me.

My box of Christmas ornaments is now the size of a compressed one pound bag of coffee. It fits in the drawer with my hair brushes, gloves, and other assorted personal stuff.

This year, Ed helped me decorate. We hung three tree ornaments on the living room valances over each window – a red faced Santa, doves in a heart-shaped wreath from a trip to Mayberry, and the angel I painted for Ed when I went to Prescott, Arizona last year. There are only two snowmen – one waving “hi” from a Texas boot and another appearing to ski downhill. One of Grandma’s stars is velcroed to the coach wall above the wooded tree that bends at a 45-degree angle. The artesian who designed the tree intended the evergreen to look like a winter wind was blowing the tree over, but our family knows better. It is a representation of the dog-legged tree we cut one Christmas and anchored it to the wall so it would stand straight. My decorating was complete this year in 15 minutes but the stories remain a Christmas tradition unchanged.

Merry Christmas!

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