I started to write a post yesterday, but trashed it when I realized how depressing it was. After I did that, I couldn’t think of anything else to write about that wasn’t a downer. I decided to work on my puzzle instead.

This morning, we took down all the Christmas crap. Every year, I am less and less enthusiastic about decorating the house because it requires putting things up and taking them down; then cleaning up the residual mess. But I think I would be sad if I didn’t decorate the house. I like to look at Christmas lights and I enjoy the coziness of the way they make the house feel, especially here in Germany. So I dutifully put up the trees, hang the stockings my mom knitted for us, and scatter other holiday decorations around the living room. Then, in early January, I take it all down again, discarding the inevitably broken ornaments that result each year. I have a ton of ornaments my mom gave me– some of which were around before I was even born and don’t even make it to the tree anymore.

I was thinking about some of the ornaments that mean something to me, though. I have some that were given to me by people I haven’t seen in thirty years. I have some I made when I was in elementary school. One from first grade (a burgundy fire glazed church); one from second ( a Christmas tree made of salt dough that I colored with magic marker); one from fifth grade (a painted rocking horse that looks shitty because I couldn’t decide what color I wanted and finally went with white); and one from sixth grade, (a misshapen sled made of popsicle sticks and spray painted gold).

Art was not my strong suit when I was in school. I was good at drawing things, but could never stay in the lines. I had terrible handwriting then and now, actually. I liked art, but could never settle on a concept. So I’d end up with ugly white rocking horses with too many colors used for the saddle, rocker, and saddle pad, which I’d painted on myself, since all saddles need pads under them, as far as I’m concerned. I’d had a vision in my head, but changed my concept when it was too late.

The ornament that really gets me, though, is the church. I went to a public school in Fairfax, Virginia for first and second grades. In 1978, people didn’t care if the teacher presented churches to children as Christmas ornaments. I want to say we had a choice of which one we wanted. I never liked church as a kid, but I must have thought the church ornament was the coolest looking one. I could also tell that the teacher did the heavy lifting in the making of that ornament, since it still looks really nice in 2020. Like I said… I wasn’t one to stay in the lines when I colored. I’m sure that today, kids in public schools aren’t offered religious subjects for their Christmas art projects. Actually, I’d be surprised if they do any kind of Christmas themed stuff anymore, but I really have no idea. Things have changed so much over the past few decades.

Then there were ornaments on the tree we bought when we lived near Neiman Marcus. My sister gave us a $100 Neiman Marcus gift card as a wedding present. $100 doesn’t buy much at that store, so we decided to use it to buy Christmas ornaments. For the first twelve Christmases we spent together, we hung those ridiculously pricey ornaments on a fake tree we bought at Rose’s Discount Store for $50. I hated that tree, because it had poorly color coded branches and it took forever to put it together. We finally bought a new tree in 2013, because I was tired of dealing with the old one. I remember before we left Texas, we put the tree out with other stuff to be picked up by the city. Trash pickers removed all of the valuable scrap metal, then some Jehovah’s Witnesses came by to take some of the rest of it. Naturally, they left the tree. No one else wanted it, either.

We have a small tree we bought the first time we lived in Germany because we forgot to pack our Christmas stuff. I haven’t had the heart to throw it out yet, although I think when it’s time to go back to America, we’ll be leaving it here. Every year, it loses more “pine needles” and makes a mess. I also look forward to doing away with the horrible German lights we have. For some reason, the light strands have about twenty feet of wire before the string starts. They have very heavy duty, plastic, bulky plugs, too, which take up a lot of room on the power strip. I threw out a perfectly good light strand today, because it was hopelessly tangled and would have taken forever to straighten out. We’ll just get a new strand next year, if we’re still living in Europe.

After we finished taking down all the Christmas stuff, we put clean sheets on the bed, and I vacuumed the living room. Then I cleaned the toilet and took a shower. For a filthy person who lives “like a pig”, I sure do a lot of housework. That’s another issue that I hope will be resolved in 2020…

Mother-in-law is coming next week. We’ll have more housekeeping to do before she arrives and becomes our first houseguest at this address. I’m eager to hear what she thinks of our vastly upgraded digs. Bill also has to order new tires for the Volvo, since the ones we paid 470 euros for last week are snow tires… and somehow, we have to get our “Real IDs” to prove we’re Americans… not that I’m proud of it, lately. I hate this time of year, but at least we have a lot to focus on this year.