we are having a door decorating contest at work. judging takes place on friday and the winning department will get a free lunch. walking around the hospital, there are the requisite number of "gift wrapped and bows", the chemical dependency group room has the twelve steps in red and green, and medical records has a mailbox with a list of all the psychiatrists on santa's list. seeking every opportunity to "do" therapy, i painted a big tree and gave my groups blank stars (to decorate their holiday wishes/hopes), circles (to draw or write holiday traditions), and gingerbread cutouts (just to decorate). i like that they can participate and be part of the display- less work for me! sadly, the bottom of the tree is looking rather nude in the ornament department, so in order to make it appear less charlie brown, the rec. therapist and i added our own.
an exchange ensued of our own personal holiday traditions; not the 'set out cookies and milk, or read the christmas story while great auntie annabel fell asleep with her mouth wide open' traditions (although she did say this was an annual event at her house). rather we learned that tree decorating was universally stressful (a poll was taken to include the chick from purchasing who stopped by to drop off a new box of art supplies). it appears that macaroni ornaments, popcorn garlands, and popsicle stick frames were not a recurrent vision for any of our mother's trees. colour schemes and themes were complemented by faberge eggs (purchasing chick's mother), assistance was minimal due to "not doing it right" (me and rec. therapist's mothers) despite their complaints that no one was helping. my annual role usually involved decorating myself with tinsel and baubles and parading around my catwalk/living room until my mother commandeered the "earings" so she could fill the gaps at the base of the tree.
we had special "christmas pyjamas". mine was a t-shirt style nightie (with matching socks) that had a family of bears jumping on a bed wearing santa hats with the title "beary christmas". we were expected to wear our xmas pj's while opening our presents (wearing additional santa hats on our own heads) all recorded for posterity to enjoy and show to future spouses at later family functions. i was 23 at the time.
present opening was always delayed until; "just let me boil the kettle, i can't do anything til i've had a cup of tea", followed by; "just let me put the turkey in the oven, if it doesn't go in now we wont be eating on time" (xmas "lunch" always seemed to take place right before dinner time); followed by; "just let your father peel the potatoes for me so i can get them on the boil" at which point my brother and i started following them around the kitchen playing those battery operated carolling critters to see if irritating them might expedite the unwrapping portion of the morning.
i no longer have the xmas nightie, but i may just execute a charging bellyflop onto my parent's bed this coming xmas morning, for old time's sake. testing my mother's nerves truly is "a game the whole family can play".