image courtesy of leawo.com
There are no gifts under the tree. And yet there it stands, oddly decorated, in our living room. The tree itself is not odd, an artificial one gifted us by my generous aunt and uncle. Nor are the ornaments any more peculiar than might be expected. There are Santas, snowmen, stars, stuffed animals, and even a few soccer balls. Some of the decorations were given us and others we’ve bought over the years, some have meaning, and others don’t. I suspect this is the case with most Christmas trees and their trimmings.
No, what makes our tree strange is the very conspicuous line about three feet from the bottom. It is an international border line of sorts.
All the fragile ornaments and decorations live in the country to the north. They are made of glass and porcelain and don’t get out much. Like delicate old grandmothers they stay home for Christmas, patiently awaiting the arrival of visitors. When the visitors do arrive, there is no rush to open gifts; instead there is tea and conversation. Quiet conversation, about the weather (it’s always cold, you know) and second and third cousins. When these dainty ornaments do finally open their gifts, the paper is carefully removed and folded (no ripping, goodness no) and set aside to be used again next year. The moment is savored, and cards are given the same attention as the crystal figurines and punch bowls they serve to introduce. These grandmotherly ornaments are both beautiful and safe, living north of the border. And they don’t drive, even though there’s an extremely low-mileage Buick in the garage.
To the south are the durable and adventure-loving ornaments. Most of them are made of wood or plastic, and they can not sit still. Not even for a moment. These are the decorations with ADHD, and no doctor will prescribe Ritalin for holiday accessories. Like preschool children waiting for Christmas morning, they run from room to room in jubilant expectation. When unwrapping presents, these ornaments scream and thrash about, throwing paper, jumping up and down. All cards are ignored, as are gifts that have already been opened. Moments are not savored; they are swallowed whole. I told you these ornaments live south of the line of demarcation, but in reality you would be hard-pressed to see any of them if you came to visit. Most are probably away on another of their adrenaline-filled exploits, climbing bookcases or spelunking under beds. Though I do see a lone stuffed sheep here in the floor. And over there is a wooden Santa Claus, just at the foot of the couch.
There are no gifts under the tree for the same reason our ornament border exists. And that very pronounced line at three feet is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.
I just hope she doesn’t get any taller.