Colored lights. Little, not big, though now that no one has them anymore, big will work in a retro kind of way, but still not on the tree. Solid lights too; the option to have them spaz about is nice, but I need them to occasionally stay put.
Garland, preferably gold. Definitely not silver. The tinsel can be silver, but not clumped. Strands for accent. Although it’s a moot point when cats are around, because the last thing I need is to be mocked by sparkly kitty litter.
An angel for the top, although since my family’s low-budget angel of yore disappeared, I don’t really care if the topper is a star, and I’d definitely rather a star than a garish big angel. But I still miss our old angel, which was little and had like a plastic doll head and sporadic yellow hair and a cardboard body.
Ornaments should be meaningful. Random balls and the like are all right as filler, but I want my tree bursting with nostalgia. Perfect example: my brother Robb made I think in nursery school (Robb?) this HUGE monstrosity of a paper “dove,” complete with I believe glitter, his name, and–as with any self-respecting homemade ornament–pipe cleaners. I hated it at the time because I think I was probably in a phase where I was trying to be cool, but that is the kind of ornament I appreciate now. Probably in part because when my parents got married they had no money but my mom was an art major, and she painted approximately one billion wooden ornaments. So even our filler ornaments were meaningful.
Little bows, candy canes, pine cones, those are also things that go on the Christmas tree. They are cute and fun, but tie the tree together, giving it a cohesive look despite the paper dove and awkward class-picture ornaments.
That is my tree.
That was not Shannon’s tree.
It was Christmas 2001, and Shannon and I were living in an apartment in evil Plainview. The apartment was nice and big, if a bit cold and dungeon-y. And Shannon is excellent at decorating, so the place looked really pretty. Basically, I didn’t care what she did to the apartment, because she always made it work, and I got used to not *assuming* that things were what they seemed, like that a spice rack would hold spices or that a teapot would be for making tea. The rule is as I discovered, that if something has Disney characters on it and can break, or if it has shamrocks on it and can break, or if it is old-looking (“antique”), or if it is a pillow, you may not use it for its apparent purpose. But it is all very pretty.
So when Shannon told me that she intended to put beautiful bows on our tree, I was a bit taken aback that something inside me felt resistance. I quickly dismissed that resistance though, because it was Shannon! She knew how to make glittery snowflakes out of cardboard and magnets out of looseleaf! Mad skills. Carry on. And I’d seen strands of ribbon flowing down the fancy trees at Hick’s Nursery; it was pretty. I felt very mature as I headed home to put up ornaments on the tree that Shannon was setting up with the basics (i.e., lights, garland, and now apparently, pretty delicate bows). Rock on.
I burst inside, happy to see that Shannon and her ubiquitous pajamas had been joined by her sister Devon and Bert. Bert being our friend and not our sister. (Usually.)
“HELLO EVERYONE HOW ARE YOU AND HOLY GOD WHAT IS THAT ON THE CHRISTMAS TREE?!?!”
Okay, these were not the unobtrusive ribbons my brain had imagined. These were big bows with huge red ribbons creeping like spider legs all over MY CHRISTMAS TREE.
The next half hour can be summed up in the following:
“THIS IS HOW INTERIOR DESIGN WORKS!”
“YOU CAN’T EVEN SEE THE TREE!”
RIP! Shannon tears the bows off the tree, and in the process…
…SMASH! Goes an ornament!
STOMP! Goes Shannon into her room!
SLAM! Goes her door!
SIGH! Goes Bert, obviously wondering why he hangs out with women in the first place, as he goes to Shannon’s room to calm her down.
I sat out there with Devon, nervously giggling but feeling immediately like, “What a weird fight.” You know how sometimes crap’s going on, but there is the part of you that is like, “Well this is kind of funny!” but you can’t just go with that aspect of it, because in the meantime, people are crying.
So of course since I couldn’t laugh, I started to cry too, wailing to Devon about how I just wanted it to feel like Christmas, and I wasn’t expecting the Spider-Bows.
Of course, Shannon and I made up and “bows” is now like “Pictionary” on “Friends,” like “Ha ha, WATCH OUT!” But you know, as absurd as the argument was on a surface sense, how many people have had their own versions of Spider-Bow angst? Share your stories!