Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Traditions

Nothing says Christmas like a tangled up knot of metal ornament hangers in a Cheez Whiz jar.

To me.

It's funny the childhood memories that transition into adulthood. I vividly remember the hunt for the jar every year. Amy and I would dive into the boxes of Christmas decorations, in search of the Cheez Whiz jar. We couldn't hang ornaments until we found that magical jar of angst. Mom would unscrew the lid, and lay it on the coffee table. Pulling the nest of hangers out, she'd tap the knot on the lid, loosening a few hangers at a time. Rather than leaving the hot mess of hangers out to scratch the table, Mom gently forced the knot back into the jar. Amy and I would hang bobbles until we ran out of hooks, and Mom would stop what she was doing to get us more hangers. I don't know how Mom had the patience to pull the hangers out and tap tap tap, returning it to the jar. Perhaps it was all part of the ritual.

We never used all of the hangers, but it was important to not run out, thereby insuring the tangled assortment would avail itself to the Nelson family year after year.

Fast forward to 1988 and my first year living away from home. My roommate Jennifer and I cobbled together furniture and money to rent an apartment. Coincidently, my hand me down furniture matched her hand me down furniture and although dated with the 1970s burnt orange and wagon wheel pattern, the living room looked good.

We pieced together Christmas decorations and laughed about how it looked like "adults live here." I don't remember how we got the tree home from the store and into the appartment as we both drove Chevy Chevettes. Looking through the boxes, we realized we needed hangers. And I said, we need a Cheez Whiz jar too. She asked why and I said to keep the ornament hooks in. Didn't all families do that? She said no, but was willing to eat the yummy spread on crackers to empty the jar.

Fast forward to 2013. Yes, it's the same jar. 25 years of peaceful existance, containing tangled chaos. I don't think our use of the Cheez Whiz jar will ever amount to a significant viral internet story, or a Cheez Whiz ad. But it resonates within my heart, the spirit of Christmas, of spending time with my Mom, Dad, and Amy. Of listening to the Chipmunks sing Christmas Songs, (Alvin!!,) watching  A Charlie Brown Christmas, watching Mom douse her fruit cake with rum, and  listen to her mysteriously work behind the closed door of her sewing room late into the nights.

Merry Christmas To All, and To All A Cheez Whiz Night.

1 comment:

Fara Reed said...

I love this. Thanks for sharing. I was remembering recently how in our family we had to decorate the tree in a very specific order. . . balls and fillers in the middle of the tree, plastic and less precious ornaments on the bottom, etc. It just felt "right" to keep doing it that way after I left home.