Monthly Archives: December 2009

The Tale of the Tinsel

Christmas is changing in my family.  As my mom and dad get older, things have gotten a bit more mellow.  Since both my brother and I are single, there isn’t the crazy dash to the inlaws for massive multi-family gatherings.  For me, it’s nice and peaceful.  Not sure if it is the same for everyone else.  My parents have moved to a smaller house so my brother gets the spare bedroom and I get to spend my holiday on the couch in the living room.  It’s not so bad, as I get the TV and fall asleep to Christmas lights.

A week or two ago I was chatting with my dad and he was talking about how he had put the tree up and mom was busy decorating….

But I laughed as he says “But your mom will never think the tree is decorated until there is tinsel on it.  And I can’t find it anywhere!”

I remember hating tinsel as a kid.  In my childhood impatience it was simply annoying as it was the one item you couldn’t rush to put up on the tree.  And once it was on the tree, in seconds the static cling of the winter air would have it reaching out and attaching itself to my warm cozy sweaters.

But it is my mom and it is Christmas, and I will supply any simple pleasures for her that I can find.

So I set out for several days, searching for these little boxes of shimmer.  Walmart, Target, Old World, World Market, Lowes – no luck anywhere.

Then I go online – seems like you can buy tinsel either in blocks of 100 packs wholesale.  Or you can by them from vintage shops for $70 a pack.

SEVENTY DOLLARS??  Are you kidding me?

I thought about running some tin foil through my paper shredder.  Then I talked myself out of that idea.

Next I found a kind woman having a bit of a Christmas garage sale on Etsy.  She had 4 boxes of tinsel from her parent’s garage.  Paypal transferred significantly less than $75 and she sent them to my parents with a nice note.   My job was done.

Then I ran to CVS down my street to pick up some Gatorade for a sick friend, and low and behold – there was a GIANT DISPLAY OF TINSEL for 75 cents a box.

I wanted to go on those antique store websites and give a little tip to anyone wanting a swinging 60s look on their tree.  I didn’t.

But I did buy 5 more boxes.

So my parents now have 7 boxes of tinsel in their Christmas decoration bin, and 2 are up on a beautiful tree.

Last night I was lying on the sleeper-sofa, ready to fall asleep and I realized the peace of tinsel.  You don’t need blinking lights or flashy decorations, the brief movement of the tinsel creates a shimmer on the tree that is reminiscent of light reflecting off icicles after an ice storm or the water down one of those zen fountains. The tree literally sparkles.

That might have been my first true quiet moment in weeks.

So I know my tinsel-quest was worthwhile, if for no one else but for me.   I am the one who needed to turn off everything in my life that is busy and flashing and loud and trying really hard to be cool, and take a moment to see a little glimpse of peace at Christmas.