But this year we went on Thursday afternoon, and we had the trees to ourselves.
We kept this past weekend open so that we could put up the tree and the exterior illumination.
I brought our Christmas tree inside and placed it in a No. 3 washtub. We have to use a washtub because we always buy trees with roots so we can replant them after Christmas and enjoy them year around.
We’ve lost a few, but strolling through our yard, it’s easy to pick out the trees from past Christmases.
Once inside, I helped Jilda wrap the lights because that part is easier with two people, but I leave the hanging duties to the professional.
She is very meticulous when it comes to decorating, so I try to give her room.
Time has taught me not to question but to attach the little wire hooks to the ornaments and hand them to her when she needs them.
She never takes her eyes off the tree, so I have to rely on subtle signs that she needs something — a wiggling finger, a cocked head, a barely audible grunt, or a hip that's thrust to the starboard instead of port.
Sometimes it takes a mind reader to hand her the right thing, but again, time has taught me well. I simply act as the DJ and drink fetcher.
At times it's hard to see where she's headed with a particular design, but I've learned that I don't have to envision the outcome while the work is in progress. It always comes together once the decorating is done.
When she finished the tree, we turned off the overhead lights, sat on the couch sipping eggnog, and listened to Windham Hill's “December.”
Afterwards I went outside, drug out the eight-foot step ladder and began to string lights around the hemlock tree at the edge of our walk.
While hanging the lights, I did something I knew better than to do. I was near the top of the ladder and I leaned ever so slightly to the left and before you can say “Kris Kringle,” I was lying flat on my back.
I sprang back to my feet like a cat. Jilda came running out to check on me. I think she heard the ladder bang up against the house, but now she's telling all her friends that the house shook when I hit the ground.
Now I know I could afford to drop a few pounds, but there's NO way the house shook when I hit the ground. If she tells you it did, she is a LLPOF (Liar, liar, pants on fire).
After the spill, I walked around nonchalantly as if nothing had happened, but I was secretly taking stock on all my moving parts to make sure nothing was broken.
After a while, I thought to myself, “Hey, this is no big deal.”
That night I fell asleep, and when I woke up Sunday morning, I almost called 911 because every muscle in my body was screaming.
I snorted some Advil and finally managed to stand and move about.
Jilda spent most of Sunday painting Christmas cards. It’s a tremendous amount of work, but she wouldn't have it any other way. Many of those who receive her cards, frame them.
These are a few of the Christmas traditions at our house. We don’t decorate in October, so we’re not sick of Christmas when it finally arrives.
I can promise you this, next year when it comes time to do the exterior illumination, I will have someone holding the ladder and I will climb it with care.