When my two kids were home, I looked forward to decorating, inside and out, each and every holiday season. October 1st began the decorating season in our household. I loved putting the “blow ups” in the yard and changing the inside just enough to show each holiday off as a family to enjoy together.
When the day after Thanksgiving came around it was time to begin decorating our Christmas tree. Their dad and I always put the tree up together and we’d get it wrapped with its garland until our kids were old enough to help. Then I’d sit in the floor and carefully pull out each ornament to make sure each one had a hook or ribbon to be hung with. As I would hand them off to each child and their dad for them to hang on the tree, I had the pleasure of sitting and enjoying my view of them from the floor. That’s a treasured memory in my mind each and every Christmas season now that both kids are grown, married, and have a child of their own. I sometimes wonder if they, once their children are old enough, will carry on any of the traditions that we had created together when they were growing up at home.
As an empty nester now, each year I see so many different themes of beautifully decorated Christmas trees and I think to myself “maybe this year I’ll do something different with mine” but I can’t bring myself to do it. Once the decorations for each holiday has been gotten out of storage, there go all of my memories, and I decide to keep my tree decorated exactly how it’s been decorated each year previously only to add one or two ornaments for that particular year.
Such lonesome frustration comes up during the process and begins to create a feeling of dread and why bother when no one is here to enjoy it with these days.
My thoughts and feelings are so different than they used to be. Now I have wishes and/or prayers that my husband, kids, and grand kids could be home especially this time of year to enjoy the process with, that I almost decide to not even decorate at all. As if the part of digging all of the decorations out of the garage isn’t painful enough, there’s the putting the tree together and making sure it’s all connected correctly. Then plugging it in to see the beauty of the lights come to life, thankfully my tree has the lights already on it, only to begin separating the branches as to fill in the “big” holes. Now begins the true headache of separating each ornament and finding the hook that I purposely left on it while disassembling the previous year.
While separating each ornament is not my favorite thing to do, each year I am reminded of so many memories that come back to life in my mind all over again; memories that are not a part of my day to day living anymore. While carefully hanging each ornament on just the right branch to be sure it hangs properly, it’s placement on each branch is very important to me. The ornament has to be hung in such a way to display the correct side of the ornament and not spin around to face the inside of the tree. While the tree topper is not the same each year, it has to be placed in just the right way to be seen when looking directly on the “front side”. Once the decorating is complete with the mess is all cleaned up, only then do I get to enjoy the full beauty of it all as a whole.
I love sitting, as close as my furniture placement allows, beside my beautifully decorated Christmas tree and embracing each and every memory that’s been made over the years. My all time favorite ornaments are the ones that are homemade by each child of mine. I look forward to those that I pray to receive from each grand child to be added some day. Each and every ornament placed on my tree brings back a different memory to the frontal lobes of my mind that’s been filed away with the packing it all up the year before.
So while the dread of putting all the decorations out without my family together isn’t always enjoyable for me, once it’s completed, there’s nothing I enjoy more than sitting beside my very own tree in complete silence with only the lights blinking in the darkness of the room and looking at each individual ornament only to revisit its purpose and meaning for being hung on that branch. There is no other theme that I can visualize for my Christmas tree of memories.
So tell me, what does your Christmas tree mean to you?