We’re usually pretty blasé about decorating for Christmas. Living in small apartments with three cats, one of whom thinks it is his mission in life to scale every cabinet, shelf, and bookcase, and knock off everything that he finds, is not very conducive to decorations of any kind.
As we like to remind the cats yearly, you are why we can’t have nice things.
Two years ago we decided to heck with it, we are putting up a Christmas tree, come what may. We bought some bitter apple spray to deter the cats from chewing on the tasty, tasty plastic branches and drenched the tree in it.
It did nothing except turn the tree into apple-flavored plastic. We were more bothered by the bitter apple spray. It’s noxious stuff, if you haven’t tried it, and it gets everywhere – on your hands, your clothes, and you don’t even realize it until you are eating dinner later that day and asking, does this taste funny to you?
Eventually that nasty aftertaste went away and we were able to enjoy our Christmas tree, which the cats, by and large, left alone.
Until we unboxed the tree the following year and the bitter apple spray wafted out, coating everything once again with its horrible flavor. We are now on our third year since spraying the tree, and when Will set it up yesterday, we could still taste it.
At least it’s pretty.
We have a mantel and a fireplace for the first time in our lives, and the stockings have already been hung with care. We’re short one, but Natalie has neither the interest nor the coordination to tear wrapping paper off gifts this year, so that’s ok.
She’s not entirely sure what to make of the tree, but I think she’s really going to enjoy staring at the lights in the evenings. She had just woken up from a two-hour nap when Will took this picture, so she was in a bit of a daze.
Having Natalie around has catapulted me back into my own memories of Christmases past, when Santa was real and Christmas Eve was the absolute longest night of the year. My sister and I creeping down the stairs at 4am to surveil the bounty under the tree, then giggling and shushing each other excitedly as we raced back up to open our stockings. Stuffing ourselves silly with cookies and fudge and pie, because in the tumult of cousins and Christmas music and wrapping paper, who’s keeping track of how much sugar we’ve had?
A lot of the Christmas magic seems to have faded over the past several years, when delight over a white Christmas turns to grumbling about having to scrape off our car before going anywhere. Even though Natalie is only a baby, too small to appreciate any holiday traditions, I’m so excited to see things through her eyes. To have a second chance at that Christmas magic, at the wonder and enchantment and yes, even the snow.
I think it’s going to be a very merry season.