My memories of decorating the Christmas tree as a youngster remain crystal-clear, lo these many years.
Some soft yuletide tunes hummed in the background as our family hung our decorations in heavenly peace, a fire quietly crackling in the background. As we hung our ornaments with care, we chatted pleasantly about the niceties of the season.
"Mom, can you make the eight-track play 'Hark, Harold's Angels Sing' again?" I would enthusiastically request. Everyone would chuckle. Me too, even though I didn't know what they were laughing about - a theme which would become prevalent in later life.
When we finished, the tree was breathtaking. My younger sister would then have the honors of putting the angel on top of the sparkling, beautiful evergreen.
With these jovial memories so vivid, I thought it would be wonderful if my own nuclear family could recreate them as a tradition of our own - decorating the Christmas tree in blissful harmony.
It didn't really work out the way I had planned - a theme which has become prevalent in my life.
I had the scene set. Early Sunday evening, soft holiday music playing in the background, a small blaze in the nearby fireplace. We brought in the Christmas decorations from the attic. The problems started when we opened the boxes holding the ornaments and lights. I immediately started trying to untangle the lights. My boys immediately started scavenging through the ornaments.
Apparently, it is impossible for a 5-year-old or 3-year-old boy to hold a round ornament without immediately throwing it across the room. It's irresistible. And the shinier it is, the farther they throw it.
I handed the lights off to my wife to put a halt to the budding ornamental baseball game.
Meanwhile, our daughter had ditched Perry Como for Hannah Montana; the fire went out; and I had to help my wife escape the python of lights that had entangled her upper torso. I then became the caretaker of the lights and proceeded to somehow ensnare my shoe laces in the spaghetti-esque maze.
Hours later, after five glass ornaments were broken, four attempts to rekindle the fire, and two high-speed chases of our three-year-old son as he careened throughout the house in his underwear dragging a string of red beads behind him, the family cat in hot pursuit, we exhaustively hoisted the youngest of our tribe to put the angel atop our Christmas tree. This minor detail took another 15 minutes to complete.
When we finally got everyone tucked into bed, I called my mother to explain my failure to recreate the beloved Christmas tree decorating experiences of my youth.
As I reminisced about my rose-colored recollections of Christmases past, and then recounted what had transpired that evening at my house, I was shocked to hear my mother's knowing response: "Yes, that's about the way it was when you were a kid," she said.
"Len, we didn't even have a fireplace until you were in college."
Oh, right. I forgot about that - a theme which has become prevalent the later I get in life.
Len Robbins is editor and publisher of The Clinch County News.