An empty hook dangles, a kitty cat hides…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

Welp, it happened. The first blown glass casualty of the holiday season was laying in shattered defeat on my floor this morning when I got up. The cat was hiding under the tree with her ears back, though I couldn’t tell if she was contrite, or just pissed that I caught her at the crime scene. I swept up the shards of her victim, and only then did she stalk out as if nothing was amiss. I must say, I’m impressed the full bulb brigade lasted this long. I put the tree up this past weekend, and that was the first broken ornament we’ve had. Last year it wasn’t five minutes before the cat pawed a decoration to its doom.

I put the tree up, and that makes me happy. I love bright lights and shiny things, and I suppose I can’t blame the cat’s obsession with the decorated tannenbaum. If I could get away with climbing up the artificial trunk, I would.

I used to lay under the Christmas trees when I was a kid. It’s cute when you’re little. You scoot under the tree and look up and proclaim to know know what a tree fairy must feel like. People look upon you and press their hand over their heart and say, “Aw, isn’t that adorable!”

Pro tip: they do NOT have the same reaction if you do this as an adult. Apparently only little children are allowed to feel like tree fairies.

I know. TOTALLY unfair.

Ah well. Like I said, we have an artificial tree, anyway, and not a large one. Our living space is tight, and our tree reflects this. I doubt I could scoot myself under it if I tried. The bottom branches would probably snag on my boobs and topple over. Imagine the looks I’d get then.

When we were kids, my dad would always get a real tree, generally one that was actually way too big for the space. It was fantastic. Artificial trees look very nice, and some can even pass as real from a distance. However, no artificial tree has the same feeling as a real one. A fresh tree newly erected RIGHT IN THE LIVING ROOM!! is a magical thing indeed. There’s an aura to it, a smell…the sense of life and age and comfort and wisdom.

Fine. I love trees. What.

…which is why I have an artificial one now. I don’t want to cut down a viable tree that struggled for ten years to make it in the hard knocks life that is Nature simply to make my living room look prettier for a month. I know, I know, I know…there are excellent arguments FOR the Christmas tree industry. I get it. I just don’t want to watch a vibrant, living tree fade and droop and drop its browned needles of life on my floor. I just can’t do it. There is nothing sadder than watching the Christmas tree that entered your home fresh and still thrumming with the life of the forest leave your home on a sheet, a sad, needleless husk of its former glory to be left unceremoniously by the curb, a few crumpled wisps of tinsel blowing over the mummified branches as a stark reminder of what was.

Okay, so maybe there are a few things more sad in life. But you have to admit, that rates right up there.

Some day, perhaps, if we ever get our hands on some of that mythical “money” I keep hearing about, I’ll get one of those living Christmas trees, with the roots carefully ensconced in a sack so you can plant it after the season. I like those.

Besides, my tree sort of looks real. And I certainly had needles aplenty on the floor after I put it up. It’s about a dozen years old now and is starting to shed.

You read that right. It’s shedding. Like a real tree. The sci-fi-ist in me is fascinated and a little terrified. What sorcery is that which has turned an ordinary amalgamation of plastic and wire into a real Christmas tree!? Is it magic? Is it alchemy? Perhaps an experiment in the flocking lab gone horribly awry. Has my tree always been “real”? A Vader-like hybrid after a terrible forest fire?

It’s much more fun than the truth, which is the sad plastic needles can only hold on to the wire through so many of the tugs, fluffs, and twists it takes to make them look anything at all like real branches. I think it’s perhaps the last year for the old gal.

At least it doesn’t have last year’s balled up tinsel entwined in the needles. I like tinsel on a real tree. I HATE it on a fake one. My gram used to have a small faux tree. I think she must have used the same tree for like thirty years, because it had wire bristle branches instead of plastic. Old school. It also had gnarled tinsel wrapped around every branch. By the last year we set it up for her, the thing looked more like some kind of Brillo pad sculpture than a tree. If you sliced a branch, instead of growth rings, you’d see tinsel layers…an archive of Christmases of yesteryear.

Actually, that sounds kind of neat now that I think about it.

Still, as a child, it bugged the shit out of me and I vowed that if I ever had a fake tree, I would NOT use tinsel. I used to pick at the crumpled old strands until Grammie told me to “leave the godammed tree alone!” as she shuffled her feet back and forth in her rocking chair and sipped her highball. Magical times.

…no, really. I say that with a smile and love. Christmases when I was a kid were fantastic times, even when they included gnarled tinsel and swearing Grandmas. Especially when they included swearing Grandmas.

Anyway, I got our tree set up. Hung some other décor around the room, too. When we were kids, my mother would turn the living room into Santa’s freakin’ workshop. A little bit of decor looks sad. Too much looks tacky. But if you cram absolutely everything you can possibly find together and don’t leave a single square inch of surface space bare, it looks amazing.

Remember this. Holiday decorating pro tip: A few tacky things look tacky. ALL the tacky things together = magic.

Though I don’t go quite that far, it’s only because I’ve got a lack of storage space. Trust me, if I had a room to store all the decorations for the other 11 months of the year, I’d wall-to-wall Christmasify this bitch.

“Wow. You must be super religious.”

Well, no. The religious aspect has little to do with my Christmas fervor, if you want to know the truth. I said my Christmases as a kid were fantastic times, and I meant it. They were some of the happiest times of my life. Not specifically just Christmas day, but the season. Getting ready. Making the drab living room sparkle and glitter. Being a tree fairy, or at least doing my best to pretend. Baking cookies. Hearing “Holly and Ivy” read to us by Mum. Visiting people. Pretending to like the little dill cucumber tea sandwiches at Grammie’s Christmas Eve party, actually liking the taste of the oplatki we’d break off and exchange.

*obscure Catholic Polish tradition reference fist bump*

Advent calendars and present shaking and wrapping the necklace I made for someone with excited and terrifying anticipation and hope. I like it all. Why wouldn’t I want to keep doing some of those things now?

And I must admit, the cheery decor has significantly improved my mood. Well, that and some good news that I really didn’t realize I’d been so worked up waiting to hear.

My kid had another PET scan. They call them “routine”, but any parent who’s been through taking care of a child with cancer knows that every one is terrifying, especially if their kid had a previous relapse. Every one is important. There are some, though, that carry even more weight. This one was the critical scan that would mark the fifth year of remission if it came out clear.

See, for those who may not know, the day the doctor declares a patient cancer-free is not really the end. It’s the beginning of an odds game. Remission is marked in years, with relapse odds getting better and better the further out you go. Why? Because a cancer relapse actually just means that not all of the bastard mutant cells were eliminated the first time. All types of cancer multiply at different rates. Sometimes it takes years for a cancer cluster to reproduce and grow to a noticeable size. My son had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a very aggressive cancer that multiplies extremely quickly and goes from innocuous to lethal in a matter of months.

He relapsed quickly after the first round. In fact, he was declared cancer free during the appointment, and by the time we took the 2 hour trip home riding the high tide of good news, the doctor had called back to leave a message that he was wrong, that the cancer was back, and that my son would need a stem cell transplant and could we kindly turn back around for a biopsy?

No, he didn’t relapse in two hours. The doctor was going off the previous month’s scans while we were there. He relapsed dangerously in just one month.

After that, he had the stem cell transplant (which used to inaccurately be called a bone marrow transplant) and radiation, and has had clear PET scans since. This one, this was the five year mark.

So what makes that so special?

Because after five years of remission, the odds of him relapsing with Hodgkin’s has now dropped into the single digits. It’s a huge deal, an enormous milestone. And he made it.

…and yes, anyone who’s been in the same boat… I know that just means he won’t get Hodgkin’s again and that he’s still susceptible to a myriad number of side effects, other cancers caused by the medicines it took to kill off the Hodgkin’s, blah blah. But honestly, if I let myself dwell on all that stuff, the ulcers would literally eat me away inside. I can’t do that. What I CAN do is look at the good results, the clean scan, and know that we hit THIS milestone and just be glad.

The shiny, happy décor all around me just highlights the relief inside. Yes, my mood has GREATLY improved!

People have put up their Christmas lights around town, and when I went out for milk the other night, I noticed a few displays that are amazing. This weekend if the weather’s good, I’ll pack the kids in the station wagon and ride around to have a look. I don’t know if any of the older ones will be interested, but at least the little one is game. Cookie baking, present making, gift wrapping. They get a full two weeks of vacation this year, and I’ve got enough activities to keep them busy until Christmas. And then…I’m blank. Maybe it’ll storm and I can entertain them all day by shoveling.

Or maybe we’ll just sit on the couch in our jammies surrounded by the Christmas ornaments and decorations for just a bit longer before they have to be tucked away once again. You know what? Sounds like a pretty good way to spend vacation to me.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Thursday, December 18, 2014. I’m off to sweep up the second feline victim. I stupidly thought that the cat was somehow more mature this year since it took so long to break an ornament. Nope. She simply forgot how much fun it was. *sigh* And so it begins….

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