Making diamonds out of coal

So, it seems I’m on Santa’s Naughty List. (“I can’t imagine how that happened,” she said, batting her innocent blue eyes and twirling a finger through her blond locks.) We’ve been forewarned that the plumber’s going to be decking our halls (and many, many walls) with gaping holes; that construction noise will replace our silent nights; and that sheetrock dust will blanket everything with powdery grey snow. The re-piping’s not an option; it has to be done right now — the last week before Christmas.


It’s not practical, probably not possible, to put up a Christmas tree this year. I’m trying not to pout (Are you listening, Santa?), but to be perfectly honest, this feels like a dark lump of coal’s been left in my stocking. If your family Christmas tree is as symbolic and memory-filled as mine is, you probably understand how I’m feeling.


But we can still Be of Good Cheer without an actual tree, right? Right? I’m going to ask you, my dear LJ friends to help make it so.


Let’s create a virtual holiday display of our favorite holiday memories, decorations, and traditions. We’ll call it a meme, if that encourages more of you to join the party. Betwixt and between all your holiday parties, wrapping and baking extravaganzas, please post a picture or describe a much-loved ornament; also, tell us why it’s your favorite, and how it came to live in your collection. If you don’t decorate a tree, show us your menorah or a dreidel, Kinara, or Yule Log. If you’d prefer, show us an ornament so ugly that it makes you laugh. Or share a favorite family recipe…whatever makes you – us – smile.

Happy, healthy, and safe holidays to everyone! And for all of us, a wonderful New Year. xoxo

Image credit here.


  1. Oh Melodye. : (
    Can you put a tree on your patio or deck? with pretty white lights and red ribbons? Maybe you can have everyone write a favorite holiday memory and hang them on the outside tree with ribbon?

    and could the sheetrock dust be snow? we have quite a bit of snow and it is very annoying–like dust!
    I can’t wait to see your all finished new house in 2008!!

  2. I’ve posted a holiday story. And recipes. FOOD!

    And get a little teeny, tiny potted tree and put it in your bedroom. Or somewhere the plumbers can’t claim it’s springing a leak.


  3. So, so sorry, Melodye.
    Here are a few of mine for your collection:

    Snow, darkness, and wind whistling outside, white candles gleaming, wreaths of soft fragrant pine inside. Faces glowing in the firelight. Cups of spicy wassail and plates of cookies.

    Spooky, minor laments– Lo How a Rose, In the Bleak Midwinter, Lullay lulla,I wonder as I wander, bringing images of windswept white hills, and voices accompanied only by their echoes, drifting between dark stone arches, candlelight flickering through stained glass.

    Hushed children with sleepy eyes and flushed cheeks clinging wide-eyed to woolen arms and chests in a crowd, too impressed by the magic of the candles in the hands around them and the gentle harmonies to reach for the light and be burned.

    Frost lace on the windows. Breath like clouds, like icicles inside your head. A full moon shining on the snow. The wide smoky span of the Milky Way and the sharp sound of bells all around, as if the tingling in your skin were somehow singing.

    And at the end, curling up in the love of your family, bearlike, the rush of the outside darkness and chill so very, very far away.

  4. Will do…I’ll take some pictures and post them.
    I’m not sure what yet since I leave town soon, but I do have a favorite (faux) topiary tree w/ white lights here at my home that I love. I just got an angel for the top this year….let’s see what’s posted and I agree, a tiny tree in your bedroom? On your porch? Bring a little Christmas cheer into your life – little white lights can make a difference.

    In the meantime, here’s some Christmas cheer….

  5. I am so sorry, Melodye, for the timing and for the downer that this is … you’re welcome to share, in spirit, with our celebrations.

    Every year, once we put up the tree, we get out our ornaments. There’s a few handmade ones here and there, mostly popsicle sticks stuck together by yours truly, but the ones I always remember are Mum’s angels. She has a beautiful, sparkly, peaceful collection of them, and packs them away oh-so-carefully. They give her such pleasure, and her beautiful smile never fails to emerge when she pulls them out for the first time each year.

  6. Merry Christmas, Baby {}

    My poor baby, why have you been toyed with this year? You did nothing that merited this evil feedback. I wish you could move in with me. No tree here, but I would put one in the window for you, lighting your way home. {}

    I hope my musical gift to you warms your weary heart.

    and YOU? Naughty? You wouldn’t know how to be naughty if you tried. You are the epitome of Good. {}

  7. We had one year without a tree.
    I still remember that year. We moved from the West coast to the East coast at Christmastime and stayed both at a hotel and at my sister’s because we had to wait a few weeks to close. It was an interesting year.
    I’m so sorry.
    Is there any way to put up a 1 foot tall tree?
    I hope the construction goes smoothly!!!

    Trees didn’t go on sale until Saturday here.
    I’ll post my virtual holiday later this week for you. We need to get a tree and decorate. (Life is slower here this year because I’ve been ill for a few weeks.)

  8. ((((((HUGS))))))

    What about findng a small tree, maybe something like a grapefruit tree, and stringing it with white lights?

    I’ll post something on my site about the one that I had when I was a child.

  9. oh Melodye, there has to be a story somewhere in this remodel from hell. I am sure you have seen The Money Pit with Tom Hanks–it has to be one of my favorite movies. Maybe it will give you a good laugh in the midst of all this, if that’s possible.

    In the meantime, I will work on your yuletide decorating meme . . .

  10. HUGS!!!!!

    I’m so sorry you won’t have a tree this year, but we don’t have one this year either, so just do what we’re doing and mooch off of someone else’s Christmas tree cheer! ;-D We’re headed to my folks’ for Christmas! I suggest heading to a dear family member’s house (who has a tree) for Christmas, too. 🙂 Or get a tres tiny tree and place a few of your favorite ornaments on it and your tree topper and place it on your table. 🙂

    P.S. Santa told me you never left the Nice List. 🙂

  11. MEME-ories….light the corner of my mind…

    Come into the confessional booth, my little one.
    by ..
    Me {}


    (Will you still love me tomorrow?)

    If you don’t want to ‘fess up the 5 highly personal and provocative and publishable things I am obligating you to do, just gimme a Brooklyn hollah (Hey! YOU! Yeah YOU!) and I’ll bother, er, share the joy with someone else. ;>

  12. Gosh, I have so many fav ornaments I can’t choose one. My youngest’s baby shoes ( red ) from Baby Gap are darling. The little ceramic things the kids bring home every year they’ve made in school — the ones with their pics inside? those are other favs. My ornaments I collect every time we travel someplace…I love those too as they bring back a lovely memory. Since my husband is Yugoslavian, we have Bonidan for Christmas Eve: an all fish dinner. Everyone who comes brings a fish dish. It’s great.

    • You and I love the same kind of ornaments, I think. 🙂

      I’m not sure I’d like Bonidan, though. I love seafood, but fish? Not so much.

      Are you enjoying your son’s homecoming? I’ve been keeping you and your family in my thoughts during this special, and very important, time of reunion and readjustment. xoxoxo

      Merry Christmas, dear friend.

  13. Oh, I am so, so sorry! What a horrible experience! My only hope is that in future years, when you have a beautifully remodeled home with piping strong enough to last through the next millenium, you will be able to look back on this and… well, if perhaps not laugh, at least smile a little ruefully. Though I’m amazed at how well you’ve kept your spirits up already! I think I would have been gnawing holes in the gypsum myself by now.

    Anyway, my family tradition is Saffron Cake. The recipe came from my mother’s Cornish mother, who got it from her mother etc., and I have no idea how many generations before. It’s expensive to make because you have to use real Spanish saffron, so that’s probably how it ended up being a Christmas treat at our house instead of something we’d enjoy year-round.

    In mid-November my mother gets out a huge bowl, fills it with pounds of flour and sugar and butter and lard, and cuts it all in together until it’s crumbly. She steeps the saffron threads in hot water until they’re a gorgeous red-gold color, and pours that on top. Add yeast, currants, candied peel, let rise, divide into five loaf pans, let rise again… and in an hour or so you have these sunny yellow loaves speckled with black currants and delicately threaded with saffron.

    It isn’t heavy and damp like traditional fruitcake, nor is it quite like bread either — at its best it’s slightly moist but not sticky, light but not crumbly, and has a unique not-too-sweet flavor. A nice thick slice with a cup of tea is one of the greatest pleasures of my Christmas, and my three brothers (and my mother’s brothers as well, who receive their loaves in the mail) feel the same way.

    Here’s hoping that your Christmas is merrier than you anticipated!

    • Gypsum doesn’t taste as good as iced sugar cookies, but it’s probably a little less devastating to the ol’ derriere. I shoulda thought of that myself! 🙂

      Saffron cake sounds fabulous! I’ll bet it looks beautiful, too, with that red-gold color perfectly suited to your holiday table. I love traditions like this, and it’s such a treat to share one of yours. I’m imagining how nice it would be to sip tea with you and share stories. Would you cut me a thick slice of saffron cake, as well?

      Merry Christmas to you and your family!!!

  14. Oh Melodye, I’m so sorry. You’re most definitely not on Santa’s Naughty List. You’re on the incompetent contractors who should be flogged list. I’m so sorry that your holiday isn’t what you want it to be. I offer you this, Miss Melodye…

    I hope that your christmas, despite the setbacks and ickiness going on is nonetheless filled with love, joy and happiness. Oh, and lots of hugs. 🙂

    • Oh, that tree is breathtakingly beautiful! The ornaments are lovely, and I especially like that it’s from you. 🙂

      I am having a very merry Christmas already because, even with all this mishegas, I’m surrounded by love.

      Merry, Merry Christmas to you and yours, Kevin. I’m sending good wishes your way, to, with lots of hugs. xo

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