As exhausted as I am from Black Friday shopping last night, I knew I had to get the house decorated today as is tradition in this household. I know now that my job of decorating the house is done and I can work on Christmas shopping, baking, crafts and wrapping of presents. The next month will be a busy one, as I’m sure everyone elses will be too. But of all the things I enjoyed today, it was the “building” of the Christmas tree.
I call it “building” because that is exactly what I do each year. My tree is a 6.5′ fake tree that I got my first Christmas divorced at Kmart on Black Friday. The tree is prelit because there is nothing more that I hate to do than wrap lights around the tree. So, first I have to drag it from the attic and get all the heavy pieces out of the box. Then, I pull all the branches apart and make the tree look full. This is a scratchy job that no one else in the house wants to do, so its me alone with Christmas carols playing for about two hours (depending on how many times “mommy” is called for this duration of pain I go through). This always reminds me of that first Christmas divorced thinking that it was just me and the boys to decorate the tree and that it would be my job to place the angel instead of the “man” of the house. I remember the independence as well as the fear of doing the whole Christmas season by myself for the first time.
Next, was the garland. Normally I use tinsel garland which at the end of the season gets thrown away because I get upset with the mess it caused when I took the tree down. This year, my fiance suggested getting the beaded garland as it reminds him of popcorn on the tree and I like that idea as well. I wrapped the tree (this also is a job I do by myself). . . and re-wrapped the tree. I can never get the garland to go around the tree perfect the first time. Surprisingly, this is the same reason why I don’t like to do Christmas lights. I stood back and appreciated the work I had done and hollered for the boys.
The boys and I went back up into the attic and brought down the bulbs and ornaments. The fun part was about to start. We began hanging the ornaments and telling stories of how Noah made “this” ornament when he was in the 1st grade. Gabriel oohed and awed at his baby picture in an ornament my mother made for him asking why he didn’t still have curly hair. I pulled the few wooden ornaments that I have from the tree I laid a week old under almost 33 years ago and hung them with care tonight. We all hung the ornaments that we bought for each year since this has become a tradition and something we look forward to each season. We told stories, laughed and reminisced.
I pushed the tree back to the spot that it would sit for the next 5 weeks, in front of the big window to share with the world as they drove by our house. I placed the tree skirt under the tree and shooed the cat away so I could perform this task. The boys hung the candy canes and this year they marked a candy cane with their initials and hid them from the other. They want to hunt for them on Christmas Day. I don’t know where they came up with this idea, but it sounded good to me. Lastly, I placed the angel on top of the tree. She stands atop staring down below to remind us that God always has His angels watch over us.
The boys are in bed now and I sit in my living room alone with nothing but the Christmas tree and my laptop glowing. I stare at the Christmas tree and remember all the memories of decorating with my mother, father and brother as I grew up. I look at the tinsel and bulbs and think of the magic of Christmas. The ornaments tell a story of their own. Each one has a memory, whether it is something me or my mother made by hand; the boys made at school and brought home with excitement to place it on the tree as soon as they walked through the door; or one that was bought to show the event or change of a new year with the new ornament. My tree is full of memories. The boys and I know this. It is our masterpiece of Christmas time every year . . . our life shown in tinsel and ornaments. Now the cat sleeps under the tree with the silence of memories floating around the room.
Oh and if you’re curious as to what the new ornament is this year, it’s a soccer ornament with 2011 written on the back of it.