This year is the second Christmas I’ve been away from home, and, if you think that I’m missing being with my family back in Tennessee…you’d be absolutely right. I know that plenty of people go home for the holiday, but, since I’ve got a job in retail and have to be in the store on the 24th and the 26th (two of the worst days of the year), there’s no way I can go back to Maryville. Yeah, it pretty much sucks.
Although I was in my apartment in Pasadena last Christmas, I didn’t get a tree. I really regretted it afterwards, but it seemed like it would be a lot of money and effort and I’d probably be the only person who’d see it. Christmas Eve with just Alan Jackson’s Christmas album was kinda depressing. (Even if I really like the song he does with Alvin and the Chipmunks.) So I fixed that this year and got myself a tree. I’ll tell y’all about it, but there are a few other Christmas trees I’d like to tell you about before I get to mine.
The first is, of course, the tree back home. We have high ceilings in our living room, so there’s plenty of room for a tall tree. The kind of tree that you need a ladder to decorate. It was a big deal when you were finally judged old and tall enough to go up on the ladder and hang some ornaments. Even with that, stringing lights was a job for the adults (Dad and Mom) until I was 15, when everyone finally admitted that I was taller than Mom and should be the one helping Dad.
The lights on our tree were always colored. I know that people go on and on about how clear lights are more elegant and shit, but I think colored lights are just prettier. They also make the tree less bright: I’ve seen some trees with clear lights that make you want to put on sunglasses. Colored lights are the way to go…and I don’t care if that makes us Blocks sound like a bunch of illiterate rednecks. They sell plenty of colored lights at the Target up here in Pasadena, so somebody must be buying them. And I don’t know too many illiterate rednecks living here. Besides me lol.
This is gonna make us sound like people who have the green bean casserole with the fried onions at Christmas (we do), but Mom’s been collecting Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments since before I was born. She’d get one or two a year, then a few more when they’re on sale in the summer, then people started giving them to her…so that, a few years ago, we didn’t need to have anything but Hallmark ornaments on the tree. Some of those things are dang cool (we’ve got one where Beaker from the Muppets sings the “Ode to Joy”), and they look great on the tree. It’s not just colored glass balls: each one comes with a story, and most of them have Block family stories attached to them. The last things that go on the tree were gold bead garland and an angel on the top. It looks awesome, although I reckon everyone thinks that the tree they grew up with is the best tree ever.
I got to see a few California trees this year. They were all cool in their way, but I still think you can’t do better than 30 years of Hallmark Keepsake ornaments and colored lights and an angel on top.
Joyce and I got invited to Adam and Allan’s holiday party this year. They had a big crowd, like maybe 50 people…enough to have hired two maids to carry drinks and hors d’oeuvres around. Y’all may remember that they have an interior decorating business and that their house looked picture perfect on Thanksgiving. It looked even more picture perfect the way they had it decorated for Christmas. Everything inside and out was white lights. Tons of them. So many that they turned out all the other lights in the house and the whole party was by Christmas lights and the fire. It was a super cool effect.
Their tree was super cool too. When you’re interior decorators, you probably gotta have an amazing tree. I never saw it done, but what they did was cut away at least half of the branches from the tree so that there was more room for ornaments to hang. I grew up with a lot of ornaments on the tree, and we’d always have trouble finding room for them all to hang free. A bunch always ended up more or less sitting on the branches. Not so with Adam and Allan’s tree. All the ornaments – and they had a ton of them – were hanging perfectly. They were all silver or gold, and everything from balls to stars to snowflakes to icicles…it looked like something out of a magazine. A super fancy magazine. Nothing in Southern Living looks like that tree.
(The party was cool too. They had bottles and bottles of sparkling cider, which I like. I may even like it better than champagne. I was probably the youngest person there, but I got to meet up with Esteban and Carlos again, the gay latino couple I met at Thanksgiving. Esteban even said something about maybe getting me onto his bilingual sportstalk show. I said not during the Spanish parts lol. As for Allan, yeah, he followed me around a little, and he’s got a way of staring into my eyes that’s a little weird, but it was nothing like it was at Thanksgiving when Adam got pissed off at him for getting all carried away over me. Both me and Joyce had a good time. And the tree was totally amazing.)
Joyce, I think y’all know, is into crafty things. She’s even got a whole room in the house for her crafting supplies. I got a good idea of what she could do when she went all out with both Halloween and my birthday, so I reckoned she was going to do a big deal with Christmas, too.
I was right. I went with her to pick out her tree, and she was super fussy about which one to get. She clearly had a design in mind and was looking for just the right tree to do it on. She goes in for clear lights, too…and her thing is bows. Tons of bows of all kinds of beautiful red and green ribbons all over the tree. It took her several days to do it, and I could see why. (Once I’d carried it inside and set it up on the stand, I wasn’t allowed to do anything else on the tree.) So her tree is just lights, bows and a few gold balls to catch the light. I’ve never seen anything like it.
I did get to help with the lights outside the house. Joyce even went out and got some new lights now that she had me to help her hang them. I reckon we did a very good job. She didn’t want colored lights, but I finally talked her into a few strings of red and green bulbs. I liked how the house looked with a little color outside. But the best of Joyce’s decorations were inside, especially the tree covered in bows.
I told y’all that I was over at Keaton’s helping him hang lights last weekend. I would never have expected him to do a lot of Christmas decorating, but he does. And he likes colored lights, since he thinks doing everything in clear lights would be super gay. To judge by Adam and Allan’s house, he may be right. Keaton has lights strung all around the living room. It looks great, and, since we weren’t super careful to make it look perfect, it doesn’t look gay at all.
Keaton’s tree is pretty big one for a living room the size of his. He had a tree last year for his first LA Christmas, and got all his ornaments at Pier 1 across the street. He got more ornaments from them this year, so now the whole tree is covered in different animals. But no garland, because garland is gay lol. It’s a really nice tree, and he seems dang proud of it.
So, even if I got depressed last year, I wasn’t planning to have one this year. Then Joyce gave me two dozen ornaments she’d made herself…and Keaton pretty much told me that I had to get a tree to put them on. He was right.
What were the ornaments? Joyce went out and bought a couple dozen baseballs, and wrapped each one up in ribbon with a bow at the top. In different colors. They’re super cool, and, well, nobody’s ever made me Christmas ornaments before. They certainly deserved a tree. So Keaton and I went to get a small one, just big enough for the baseballs. I didn’t decide I wanted a tree until December 12th, but lucky for me the Target still had colored lights. So my tree is just baseballs and colored lights. It looks great…and I’m real glad I have a tree of my own this year. Sure, it’s not home and Mom and Dad and my sisters and nephews…but it’s helping make California feel more like home.
I want to wish every one of y’all a Merry Christmas. And I hope that even those of you who don’t believe in Jesus can see the importance of peace on earth and goodwill to men. That really would make it a joyous season for all of us.
If that’s too serious for y’all, check this out. It’s always good for a laugh.