I gave my husband a bit of a scare the other morning. We were sitting savoring our morning lattes when instead of looking out the window at the rooftops and river, my attention was focused on our apartment. “I think I’m going to need a Christmas tree this year.” He didn’t say a word in response, but I detected a look of fear in his eyes. I could tell the wheels were turning in his head as he glanced around our intimate (small) apartment. After a couple of deep breaths he said (with a tone of relief), “Aren’t all the ornaments in storage in Michigan?”
We haven’t put up a full-sized tree in years. For the past few years, we have settled for a tabletop version or no tree at all. We are normally out-of-town for Christmas, so I just decorate enough to feel festive and don’t bother with a tree. But now I’m looking at Covid Christmas and trying to be proactive and do whatever I can to make the season jolly.
Mr. Smith is not a Scrooge. During our Indiana years, at the beginning of each Christmas season he opened the trap door in the upstairs hallway ceiling and pulled down the stairs so he could lug numerous large plastic bins of holiday decorations down for me to decorate our home. The first week in January, he would again open the trap door and haul them back up. He has hung miles of fresh garland and lights for me over the years. And while he thought his contribution to decorating the tree was dealing with the lights, he was always a willing participant. I might note that Mr. Smith is a very artsy fellow with a fine eye for design, something I have always appreciated over the years.
When I asked him why he wasn’t wild about having a tree this year he gave me two reasons. He felt it wasn’t practical from a space issue. Also, it didn’t really feel right with the state of the world. If there were grandchildren coming for the holiday, he would definitely be all in. Surely next year.
But I was still thinking about a tree. I understood his point about practicality. We don’t have room to store an artificial tree. I thought briefly about purchasing one of the small, (somewhat) freshly cut trees in front of our grocery store. I felt certain I could decorate it just fine without a trip to Michigan to raid the storage. Then it came to me. I had tucked away an image of a tree made from books in my inspiration file. This would be the perfect year to try my hand at this. I kept it small in size, no furniture had to be moved and I love it! After gathering bunches of books, I built my creation in our little TV room. It helps create just the Christmas-like coziness I was longing for. It is economical, environmentally friendly and makes me smile. There are a gazillion YouTubes on making your own. Mine is a simple version and took only about half an hour to put together.
With the tree completed, I was ready to work my magic on the rest of our home. With many of the books on our bookshelf repurposed into a tree, I was left with some open shelf space. Those open shelves were the perfect location for my Santa collection. I started by adding green garland and twinkle lights to the shelves. My Santas collected over the years in their different sizes and colors are the perfect crowning touch.
My Christmas tree is made from books, one of my favorite things, but I still want the smell of fresh greens in my home. A quick trip to the garden center and I was armed with pine, cedar, Fraser fir and holly. Now when I walk in the front door, I am greeted with the smell that always evokes great memories.
I often style a centerpiece down the entire length of the dining table built on a bed of greenery, usually seeded eucalyptus. This Christmas I decided I wanted something I could easily pick up and move off the table. I arranged three candle cups on a rectangle tray, added faux greens and pinecones and had my centerpiece! I love the look of the wood with my Falalalala table runner but want to be able to easily replace the runner with a tablecloth when we dine at the table. We have fallen into the habit of dining in front of the TV a little too often these past months. I am determined that at the very least on Sundays during December I will set the table with my Spode Christmas china, light a plethora of candles and we will linger over dinner.
A few other touches of Christmas around the apartment and my halls are all decked out. Closer to Christmas I’ll add some fresh flowers and refresh my greens. This year’s decorating is low-key and cozy and makes me happy.
I have visions of some major rockin’ around the Christmas tree next year with a gathering of grandchildren. But this year I will enjoy my little book tree and Mr. Smith. And maybe a glass of wine or two.
C’est la vie.