Cutting back on the decorations

Knowing that I would not be having many folks visiting me at home this year during the Christmas season due to quarantining and isolation in general, I cut back significantly on the decorations indoors. I still managed my outdoor wreaths and lights both in the front of the condo and in the back, but other than the six foot tree that went up in the living room in front of the large window, there was very little else that escaped any of the storage boxes. I even cheated on the tree. I merely had lots of the small white lights (roughly 700) and did not put any decorations on the tree.

Ornaments on the tree wouldn’t have been visible from the street anyway. I did manage to find a tree skirt to put around the base of the tree and a couple of fake packages to join a couple of real gifts.

The tree was an artificial tree now about twenty years old and the lights that had been permanently wired in the tree were such that only one small strand of those still worked, So a couple of years ago, I decided that I would unwire a significant number of those permanent lights. It was quite a task and my finger tips were sore from dislodging the wire clips that hid the lights in the branches, but allowed me to string new lights in a sort of haphazard way.

Some folks manage to have space to never take their artificial tree apart, but I had no such space so had to box the parts of the tree to store it and reassemble it each year.

Tradition in our family was that the tree was undecorated (lights removed this year) on New Years Day. So I did accomplish that. The box now has more old tape holding it together for another year’s use. I like the clear plastic shipping tape, but even though I had packaged and mailed a goodly number of boxes to folks far and wide, when I went to tape the tree box, the tape could not be found. So this year I used good ole duck tape.

For at least my first fifteen years, my parents always had a “real” tree and there was the disposal in January of the tree in a bonfire usually with several neighbors burning their trees together — we kids loved that, but there were soon laws to say that was a no-no and the city offered a disposal site.


It seems that there are always bittersweet moments associated with this time of year. It is a time often used to keep in contact with folks you might not otherwise communicate with during the rest of the year. This is true both for old friends as well as relatives who possibly live some distance from you. It is bittersweet when we find that from last year to this year some of those friends or relatives are no longer living.

Over the years, my list of friends I hear from just at Christmas has dwindled significantly. My high school graduating class had about 220 fellow classmates. At the time of graduation I probably knew 90% of them or more, but within three or four years, that number was down to 50% and continued falling precipitously. Part of this loss is due to no longer living in the area where I went to school and in fact living over 1000 miles away. Fortunately, while losing some friendships, there are new friendships that get added.

The pandemic that we find ourselves in at the moment is certainly not conducive to beginning and establishing long term friendships. I only hope that as the pandemic ends that those friendships from earlier times will come back.


My father was an only child so I have no first cousins from his side of the family even though I do still communicate now and then with some more distant relatives from his side of the family. On my mother’s side, there were twelve of us first cousins. While not all relatives necessarily fall into the category of friends, these first cousins of mine were indeed friends as well as relatives. Four of us in particular were within a couple of years of age and though we lived in three different states, we did manage a couple of reunions of just us with our spouses.

Age and our lack of working to maintain the relationship takes its toll so it was such that for the last couple of years, two of us wondered what had happened to one of the others — the fourth cousin had died several years before that. So we tried to find out where the missing cousin was and finally, this year we learned that he had developed a serious case of dementia. So our relationship (now three of us) has been partially restored.

In the process, a much younger cousin (the youngest of all twelve of us) had been out of touch since 2014, so we use the holidays to track down that cousin as well. Our twelve original cousins are now down to just six of us still living. We hope to stay in better touch with one another from now on.

Until next time: Oh, Fiddlesticks!


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