Well, after two trips to the hardware store, we finally had enough hooks to finish decorating the tree (the envelope that contains the hooks has gone missing — I'm sure we'll find it now that we have 200+ new ones). It looks fantastic. Somehow, we managed to smash three ornaments. Is that a sign of us getting older? I guess I'm not worried about it.
I do have to say that it feels very strange to be decorating a tree with neither of my folks around. This is the first year for us with both of them gone. I suppose every holiday will feel weird for a while. Earlier today I wondered if my dad felt the same way about the absence of his parents...and it occurred to me that I'd never really asked him about it. It was one of those topics that I never felt comfortable bringing up, mostly because there would have been the implied topic of "Hey, someday you'll be gone and I'm gonna have to deal with it and it freaks me out a little."
I figure that the way to deal with this is to just think of the holidays as a time for the development of new traditions. Yes, the kids are coming over and they'll be bringing their wife/girlfriend units. We'll put together a big dinner, open some presents and listen to a ton of Christmas music. This will be followed by as many viewings of A Christmas Story as my eyeballs can stand. Speaking of traditions, we've already watched It's A Wonderful Life. I guess now that my folks are not here it's my duty to take over the crying at the end of that one.
After doing a pseudo-inventory of holiday-related music CDs, I have come up with a total of over 50 discs (maybe we're nuttier about this stuff than we really know!). It's amazing — you can find this music in so many styles. In our collection, we have choral, classical, jazz, acoustic guitar, piano, Celtic, rock, blues, big band, Boston Pops, Sinatra, surf, novelty (Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics), and even some modern vocal treatments — find yourself a copy of We Three Kings by The Roches.
Of all of them, not a one can take on the all-time favorite. Vince Guaraldi's music from A Charlie Brown Christmas distills everything that I love about the season into one perfect suite of songs. No matter what changes around me, it's that music that pulls everything together and makes it seem "right." Or at least as right as it can be.