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Tinsel

The rain is biblical. I would need a small ark to tempt me out of doors (I sense a desire to digress about what such a small ark might be like.) All the sags in the carport roof--the immediate view out the bedroom/study window--have filled, are ponds pocked with rain. Still the light is gold, shining through the remaining leaves on the two birch trees. Almost bare, the twigs are hung with drops. Is my piece of tinsel still there? I haven't thought about it all summer, but now that the leaves are going I should look. Tinsel is indestructible.

In my family, in Vancouver, B.C., we would decorate the tree a week before Christmas. There were the fragile colored glass balls, the familiar ornaments, the strings of lights (a male domain), and the packets of tinsel. We hung the tinsel strand by strand, evenly, along the branches, never more than five strands in a clump. My mother kept watch. The porch was decorated, the front hall, the mantel. Christmas cards were also my mother's domain (she had the soul of an accountant, which I sometimes, I fear, sense in myself). She had an list of cards received and sent, which was annually updated so she'd know who got a card the following Christmas--and who to cross off the list, for whatever reason. The Christmas cards became part of the decor. There would be holly. 

The thing about tinsel was taking it off the tree. No escaping it. No throwing it out with the tree, by now dropping its needles. New Year's Day. Piece by piece we had to take it off and lay it over the cardboard support in the flat, windowed, cardboard box it came in, to be put away until the following year, when the ritual was re-enacted.

(Christmas dinner: the menu never varied. When I married and went to live in Marseille, I was astonished to discover that Christmas trees were rare (we had a creche). The main focus of Christmas there was Christmas dinner, whose main dish was never the same from year to year. And conversation.  Another day....)

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