Deck the Halls: Christmas in the Duckpond

Happy holidays!

What is the best part of Christmas in a house to call your own? Decorating, of course!

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I even decorated the cat! (He did not like it.)

While I have never been a Scrooge about Christmas, the last few years I have been not so festive. On January 2, 2011, my father passed away after a drawn out and painful struggle with COPD. The last time I saw him before I arrived at the hospital on New Year’s Day after he slipped into a coma was for Christmas. We had Christmas in the hospital and I made lasagna, which he said was the best he ever had. Ever since, Christmas was not so merry for me. This year, I am trying to turn it around. I know my dad would have wanted me to be happy and enjoy the holidays in my new home. So I am doing my best to embrace the season.

Growing up in a little apartment in Brooklyn, NY, we had little room to decorate for Christmas. We hung stockings on the entertainment center and moved furniture out of the way to have a fresh Christmas tree. I remember when I was a very young lass and still believed in Santa, I was so worried that he would not be able to come to our apartment because we didn’t have a chimney for him to come down and there were security bars on all the windows. I worried in a way only a two year old kid can. But lo and behold, on Christmas Eve my parents set up a big cardboard fireplace for Santa to come down! It took up pretty much the rest of the floor space in our tiny living room, but it was a fireplace of our own. We taped the stockings on the cardboard and I put Santa’s cookies up on the entertainment center.

Times have changed and now I have my own bona fide fireplace to decorate. I think this is why I was so eager to do the fireplace makeover I so badly wanted- that way, I can hang stockings and decorate the mantle to make sure Santa will come visit me.

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Have to make sure to leave the chimney open for the big guy!

What is Christmas without a Christmas tree? Had to have one of those! While I grew up having a real tree each year, I now have a cat that likes to chew on things, so I opted for an artificial one. Fake trees are expensive though! Or at least I thought. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I went up to New York to visit family. One of the things I miss about not living in NYC are the amazing deals you can get if you know where to look. (Maybe I just don’t know where to look down here yet.) I know that NYC is famous for its high-end shopping, but it is also infamous for its dollar and discount stores. Fuck Saks! Give me Jack’s World 99¢ Store any time! This gigantic, three-story dollar store is practically around the corner from the famous Macy*s Herald Square location and is just epic. It even has its own website. While not everything is $1, everything is cheap. Since this was my first Christmas, I needed to start from scratch with all the decorations. But Jack’s took care of that. About $50 and two glitter-filled bags later, I emerged with all the baubles and glittertastic ornaments I could possibly fit on a tree, plus two awesome orange throw pillows for my couch, which you can see in my previous post.

I still needed lights and a star to go on top of my theoretical tree though, so I kept shopping. This time, I went to Big D in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. This is another awesome discount store that has been around for as long as I have been conscious. During the holidays, they dedicate about 1/4 of their retail space to Christmas decorations, so I went there to see what they had. I was not impressed with the prices on the lights (I was tempted to buy a set of white lights that played Christmas songs and flashed with the music, though), but I was impressed with the artificial trees! I was not looking for one, but I found an awesome 6′ fake tree with 790 points of fake pine for $30! It looked great setup in the store, so I grabbed one. I also found a nice star for the top.

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Don’t stare at him, he doesn’t realize he is naked.

Yes, it is not a schmancy pre-lit tree, but half the fun of decorating the tree is putting on the lights! And I think he looks better than a helluva lot of fake trees I saw for triple the price! After I got home from my trip, I immediately got to work assembling the tree and decorating him. (Yes, my tree is a him. His name is Douglas.) I took down the mini blinds in the front room and put up some white curtains and set Douglas up right smack in the middle of the window so you can see him from outside. I had more than enough balls and baubles for him. I picked up four sets of 150-light Christmas lights and set to work. A little while later, Douglas was all dressed up and looking handsome.

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A happy little tree!

All the decorations it cost me about $200, but that included a tree and everything from the star to the stand to the stockings hung by the fire. Not bad at all, IMHO.

Other than a little bit of garland, I did not decorate the outside of the house all that much, mostly because I didn’t want to invest in outside lights. I will wait until they go on sale on December 26 and do up the outside for next year. My mother did decorate me a wreath for my front door though! If you happened to live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the 90’s and the early 2000’s, you may have seen a woman with wild curly hair and a grey beret standing on the corner of Lorimer St. and Metropolitan Ave. (and later on, the corner of Lorimer St. and Jackson St.) selling wreaths and pine decorations. That was my mother. She and my uncle owned a floral shop in the neighborhood in the 80’s. After the shop closed, my mother and father would work from the weekend after Thanksgiving until the weekend before Christmas making things with pine. She decorated wreaths, made grave blankets, pine swags, decorative baskets and anything else you would think of with pine. They used to buy over 100 pounds of the stuff and make it into beautiful creations, which my mother would  sell during the day while my dad was at work and make more stuff when he came home. Doing all of this in a small apartment was chaotic- the dining room table would be covered with pine and silk flowers and ribbons from after dinner until after midnight every night. But it always smelled of pine in the house and it was always fun to see what great things she would come up with. They stopped doing this when she went back to work full time in around 2004, but there were a lot of good memories during that time and always the smell of pine in the air, which always reminds me of Christmas.

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Not only is it beautiful, it jingles when you open the door!

So that is my contribution to the holiday spirit, and a trip down memory lane too. No matter what you believe (or don’t- I am a devout atheist), have a wonderful, magical (and magikal) holiday season.

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