I was reading Good Housekeeping the other day in my mother-in-law’s bathroom, where I learned that, with minimal effort, you can decorate your house in Christmas decorations that look nothing like Christmas at all. I wish I could have known this sooner; it would have saved me the backbreaking work of unloading boxes of some very Christmassy Christmas decorations from the shed.
Not a spot of red or dark green was anywhere in this professorial interior decorator’s design. What she did have was eucalyptus pods. I didn’t even know that eucalyptus trees had pods, much less were the go-to item for saying merry Christmas.
The magazine also had very useful instructions for how to make an old paper towel roll into a festive napkin ring holder. This is a problem much pondered: how will I store my holiday napkin rings, if I actually owned any holiday napkin rings? Okay, so maybe the thought never actually entered my mind. I don’t even know anybody who uses napkins made out of real cloth, much less holiday napkin rings.
But I can imagine that somewhere there are holiday napkin rings that spend all year long sitting in the bottom of a box awaiting the extremely formal Christmas dinner. They may still be waiting, but now they can wait in style, on an old paper towel roll decorated like a candy cane. I hope whoever has that box is reading Good Housekeeping, and has an old paper towel roll.
When I was growing up, our Christmas decorations were mostly handmade, by us kids. Mostly they were reindeers made out of clothespins. I’m not sure that we even knew what clothespins were for, other than to make reindeers. The decorations were well used, and over time they started looking a bit worse for the wear.
So my mother decided one year to throw out most of her Christmas tree ornaments and start over again. I was shocked by this announcement. She was throwing away that reindeer I had made in third grade, even though it had just one eye and no legs? But I had spent an entire five minutes making that thing!
Of course it wasn’t just my Christmas tree decorations. I have seven siblings. You can see what sort of conundrum my mother was facing. It was either throw out some decorations, or buy a new house, only dedicated to the Christmas tree.
That year she went minimalist. Only red bows were allowed on the Christmas tree. It was beautiful, which was something I never realized our Christmas tree could achieve. Beautiful and Christmassy, without any eucalyptus pods even. I should write Good Housekeeping.