And so, apparently, you’ve all put up your Christmas trees, I see. Maybe not all of you. But, my word. A lot of you. And I love you for it. I do.
The whole idea overwhelms me. There are a dozen hours and a thousand tasks between ‘Wanting the house decorated’ and ‘Wanting to Decorate the House.’
I have two trees now, all tucked away still. You might call them the Before Tree and the After Tree. Or you might call them the Family Tree and the Front Window Tree. Right now, I call them Landmines.
I looked back on this piece from 2009, the Christmas Before. To think I thought of purging them in the name of living lighter, and now I can’t hardly look at them, these bastions of a million moments.
Our Christmas tree is full.
When we began to set it up last night, I thought to myself, “You know, there’s just really no need for all of these ornaments. Tonight I will selectively purge the ones we can do without.”
(I often speak to myself with such a matter of fact tone, I assure you.)
But I didn’t know where to start.
I sorted through the ones from our earliest Christmases together, when we each brought a handful from our own own trees to blend together into our first holiday traditions. There are the metalic ones from Robb’s growing up years, with his grandmother’s handwriting on the back. There are the couple of cross-stitched ornaments that his mom made for him, dated for Robby, age nine. There is the ceramic angel, painted an unforgiving lavender, that says on the back in my mom’s handwriting: Tricia, age 3. My first Christmas craft, apparently.
There are other crafts of mine, including a sand dollar from third grade and a beaded strand from my first attempt as an entrepreneurial businesswoman. (For ten cents, I would give you a strand of perfectly patterned red, white, and green. Sorry you missed out on that investment.)
But I can’t part with those.
There are the ones from my students. Apples. #1 Teacher. Each one has a story, and I can tell you about each child who carefully presented such a proudly chosen addition for my tree.
I can’t part with those.
There are heaps and heaps of snowmen, and I just like snowmen. I just do. Perhaps I could part with some of them, but they’re one big family. So, I can’t. (And each one came from someone who knows me. And my love for those whimsical somebodies.)
There are the ornaments that represent experiences. Like Jamie’s Christmas wedding, or the beaded snowflakes the girls in my family made one year on Thanksgiving.
I can’t part with those.
And then there are the dozens and dozens of milestones that hang on our tree. Our First Christmas. Our First Home. Molly’s dog dish. Baby’s First Christmas. Lots of families of three, labeled Mommy, Daddy, and Tucker, represented with penguins, bears, moose, and of course snowmen. And one family of three, with a very pregnant Mom in the crew. Then the appearance of families of four, and many ornaments for Big Brother and Little Brother.
There is a most beautiful, translucent angel holding a baby high in the air, and that one makes me sentimental every single year. Because I remember when I opened it and hung it on our tree, grieving our first lost child and praying God would send us one to hold.
And in the branches below her, we have Mickey Mouse, Big Bird, Elmo, and Cookie Monster. Proof that God answered the cry of our hearts.
And of course, I cannot part with those.
The likelihood is far greater that I will someday add a second tree, than the delusion that I will part with any one of these paragraphs that hang in all shapes and sizes.
I simply cannot part with any of them.