You can check out what we learned over the six sessions, and see numerous examples of student work, at Alison's blog (and if you're still trying to decide what to request from Santa, Alison doesn't have her 2016 teaching schedule up yet, but I know she's already organizing another Sketching in Paris week in the fall! And yes, I guess that would be asking a lot of Santa, but hey, you've been good, right?).
As for highlight memories, though, Christmas trees have a way of capturing them, don't they? You might already have read that I renounced traditional trees for a few years, instead bringing in a large driftwood branch and decorating it with fairy lights. But if you read that, you'll know that it was my granddaughter who brought me back to the fold. This year, except for the crew that will spend Christmas in Rome and be much missed here, our family will gather at our island house for a few days -- which, our biggest Little Girl realized, means leaving her own tree and decorations behind. Trusting Nana and Granddad to do the right thing. With just a hint of anxiety in her stance, she asked, "You'll have a Christmas tree, right?"
And we will. No mucking about with driftwood branches and dainty white lights. We came home Sunday afternoon to find a tall, bushy fir on our patio, and Paul spent some time with a saw, there was a gentle modicum of fussing, no swearing that I heard, and soon the tree was upright in its stand. I was allowed to guide it through the door and help tilt it into place, but he secured it, got the Christmas boxes down, twined strands of lights through its fragrant branches, and hung the first set of glass baubles.
He left yesterday morning, and I've had the house to myself to spread out the Christmas ornaments as I sort and choose. We've been doing considerable culling around here lately, and it's entirely possible -- even quite likely -- that this may be our last Christmas here. If so, we'll be in much less space for our next tree, perhaps even in a space where only artificial trees are allowed. "Letting go" is becoming my mantra: sometimes it's freeing, sometimes it makes me anxious, and occasionally, if I'm honest, it brings sorrow, even grief.
Going through the collection of ornaments and Christmas wrapping and various sized candles in a range of colours, all the season's paraphernalia stuffed back into its containers at the exhausted end of busy days last January. . . so much of this is easy to toss. Some of it (the wrapping paper, gift tags, some of the candles) will get used over the next few weeks. Some of it I will or will not thank, à la Ms. Kondo, for serving me well over the years and put in "the giveaway bin" (numerous Christmas-decorated tins, some deliberately collected once upon a time, some "gifts with purchase," some containers of delicious hostess treats, long since consumed, many quite charming, but rarely taken out of storage anymore). Some of it, well loved as it has been, no longer appeals -- certain crafted ornaments, stridently red-and-green; others, more tasteful, have not survived the ravages of time, and I don't care quite enough to mend them.
Happily, though, by the time I've done a thorough culling, I have a treeful of joy-sparking ornaments spanning our 41 years together. I've long since lost the crude little stand of crossed 2x4 pieces my Grandpa hammered together for our first Christmas tree, but among the few fabric ornaments I stitched and glued on a miniscule budget those early years, I still have these felt stars with my little girls' photos sandwiched into their frame
|Her own little one is about this age now, and they'll be spending Christmas in Rome. Miss that little family so much!|
When it comes down to it, I suspect I'll have 15 or so ornaments that I can't bear to part with yet, even if they won't suit future homes or trees. The rest I may offer to the kids when they're here, or just add them to one of the Thrift Store-destined bins we seem to keep filling (a whole other post coming on just How. Much. Stuff! one accrues).
Meanwhile, though, having cleared out considerable clutter, I've unearthed a box of old photos, and will sit here by the tree, lights plugged in, Him and Her carolling from my Jambox, the fire churning out warmth. I'll head into the retail fray for a few hours this weekend, with daughters, but for now, it's time to savour the quiet joy of the season. Have you managed an hour or two of the same yet?