Just Call Me Mrs. Scrooge

Long Island weather
Snowfall in Northport where a tree is still decorated for Christmas. (Spencer Rumsey/Long Island Press)

By Diana Servinskas

I know a lot about Christmas, after all I’ve been celebrating it for 71 years!

Well, I guess you can subtract the first few years of life, but after that it was a very important date on the calendar for myself, friends and family. For the first 25 years, I would say it was one of the highpoints of the year.

Snow would invariably fall during the weeks before or after. If we were especially lucky, it would be clear walking into church on Christmas Eve but magically, it would start snowing as we glided out into the silent, sparkling and, oh so beautiful, Holy Night. Now with global warming, snow comes later and less often, and White Christmas seems to be just a song.

When I was growing up, buying a Christmas tree was a wonderful family adventure. My brother, who we still called Bobby, and I would jump in the car, very excited to be going in search of the perfect Christmas tree. Our perfect family tree was tall, usually touching the ceiling of our living room in New Hyde Park. Dad sometimes had to saw off a stubborn branch or two at the top. It was also very full, but to be sure we never called it fat.

My Aunt Nina would come over, and say, “You’ve done it again! You found another Musso tree!” Musso being my maiden name you see.

My father, an accountant and financial wizard, with huge amounts of patience, would decorate the tree, and my mother, brother and I would periodically visit the living room, effusively praise the job he was doing, add a ball or two, turn on our heel and run. At least I know I ran, maybe Mom and Bob (his grown-up name, after all he has curly white hair now), stayed longer and enjoyed the process. For me it was tedious drudgery, but oh how I loved the end result.

This year, the painstaking work falls to me. My husband has gone on to his eternal rest. I miss him a lot especially this month. He decorated our tree with the help of our son, John, who has moved up and out and into his new life, with his new wife  in Boston. And isn’t that what we pray for?

So, abandoned in Long Island, I am opening way too many boxes, to see which Christmas decorations will rise to meet the demand for a display of red and green for 2018. The boxes are like the Bible story of the loaves and fishes. The more the food was distributed, the more food there seemed to be for the people gathered to eat.

Well in my basement, as I attempt to take out the “Santa Reading in His Special Chair” and the “Santa in the Sleigh” statues, several more appear to take their place. My own Christmas miracle!

My age (and weight) travel with me up and down the two sets of stairs I have to negotiate in my split-level home to move Christmas mania from the basement to the shelves and tables in the living room and the den.

If I put the beautiful, reclining white-and-gold Reindeer Family on the coffee table, (one of my favorites), where will I find room for my mug and snack that I am not supposed to be eating when I watch NCIS on Tuesday nights?

Where do I put the newspapers and books whose job it is to gather into tall Grecian columns on the upstairs coffee table until I am forced to take them away?

I’ll need this space for the dancing bears, passed down from my parents’ Christmas collection. Where is the special glue for all the elves and snowmen that have been cavorting in the closet during the year and lost both heads and limbs in the battle?

I don’t have time to look for glue. I have too many presents to buy and my singing Silver Bells are somewhere in the garage waiting to be found and planted along my driveway.

When and how is this all supposed to happen?

As I said at the beginning, just call me Mrs. Scrooge!