In the past few weeks, I’ve talked to a lot of folks who didn’t have trees up yet and had already decided to do less for the holidays than years past. A lot of those folks are empty nesters. And I have to say that I look back on the years that we decorated Chez Parker with a tinge of melancholy — but I’m OK with it.
The first year we lived here, I think we had trees in five rooms. Not big trees, but trees. Even the bathroom had a tree. The foyer had a fiber optic tree that I think was down to one leg, but we propped it up in a coffee can.
We put a sports tree in the lower-level family room because the kids hung out down there. We had all the favorite team ornaments and lots of blue and white because all the kids were in Millcreek schools. As the kids grew older and were less impressed with my decorating skills — and helped less and less — fewer decorations went up. Last year, I gave them all a bunch of decorations and holiday dishes, mugs and glasses for their own places.
Now, I’m joining a lot of my friends with fewer decorations in every room. Only two trees are up and one of them won’t light. The thing is — we’re fine with it. My brother and I recalled the years our parents scaled back, and we were the ones running over there decorating like crazy people thinking they must have lost their minds. They didn’t lose their minds or their Christmas spirit. I think they had the good sense to stop racing up and down stairs with decorations. (My sister once cracked her head open dragging decorations around her house. She celebrated Christmas with staples in her head.) At Chez Parker, I told my husband this is the last year the totes filled with ho-ho-ho will go up in the attic.
And there is a splendid passing of the light-up-your-yard torch that I see — the kids are decorating like crazy this year. And in our neighborhood — and I am guessing a lot of neighborhoods — we have a Clark Griswold who has lights, figures and other holiday stuff in every square inch of the yards — front, back and sides — and house and windows. Even the mailbox is illuminated. Their daughter is in college. And that reminds me of a few quotes from “Christmas Vacation.”
Bethany: Is your house on fire, Clark?
Clark: No, Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights.
And it’s visible from outer space. Thanks to all the Clark Griswolds out there.