Friday, December 26, 2008


This year, I opted to go old-school and garnish the tree with tinsel. My grandparents on both sides always had trees that dripped with tinsel, and so it evokes this rather comfy, 1950s sort of vibe for me.

(I made this same decorating decision a few years back, and now recall telling Leon that if I ever had the idea again, he should tell me not to do it. He didn’t. And so, we have tinsel.)

Here’s what I was thinking: With a toddler in the house, obviously we parsed down the typical ornaments on the tree. I thought adding a bit of sparkle would make up for the rather naked bottom half.

And, it really does look nice.

Tinsel is just … not very Gretchen-y.

It’s difficult to explain. When placing tinsel, it seems (as I've been told) that you really can go insane if you attempt to apply it in any sort of uniform way. (Reference Grandpa Bill, who apparently – according to family lore – would painstakingly hang the tinsel strand-by-strand. I’m not saying he was insane, but he was a … strong personality.)

You have really got about 2 options when it comes to hanging tinsel:

1. Applying the "No-holds-barred, glob and throw" approach; or

2. Discovering (and then being “okay” with) a half-way process somewhere between crazy Grandpa Bill and lobbing globs of silver gloop onto your tree.

I want desperately to achieve option one – but knowing that my globs just won’t look careless and effortless enough, I instead go for option 2. However, I struggle with the implied “walking away” part of that option. Instead, over the course of many long, winter nights I find myself going back. Going back. And back, again. Trying to organize my tinsel into a more disorganized and whimsical look.

I believe the definition of crazy is something about repetitive behavior. Great. Merry Christmas.

Here's the heart of the problem that is tinsel: you never “fix” just one strand. Oh no. Instead, one strand leads to another branch that needs just a little help, and suddenly 30-minutes have passed by, and you’re standing there in front of the tree (which, even with all of your rearranging actually looks not one stitch different than when you began) covered in tinsel strands, and feeling a little … crazed.

Ugh. Back to insanity again. Not good.

But maybe I need to look at this differently.

After all, Christmas morning has come and gone; the presents are in their comfortable, unwrapped heap under the tree—and I am (going out on a limb here) guessing that no one noticed my tinsel’s lack of even distribution. Let’s see; learn and apply …

2008 was the jumbled puzzle box year. Only in our case, someone threw all the pieces in the air and we are still trying to find the ones that disappeared under the couch, … beneath the area rug, … into the fireplace.

It’s been a jumbled up year. A good year, don’t get me wrong. Just jumbled.

Maybe tinsel fits that new approach. Maybe being comfortable with globs is something I need to do. … Perhaps I need to embrace the tinsel, and let go of the insane need to carefully manage, apply, distribute, and orchestrate … In the end, there’s something awfully glorious and unfettered about those globs. And something truly powerful in just letting them be.

Christmas 2008

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sharing the memories

I've been terribly lax about our posts these last few weeks.

Thankfully, my sister is far more up-to-date. Check out her Thanksgiving Day video recap

Monday, December 1, 2008