Well, the Christmas tree is up for another year, and it is the prettiest one I’ve ever had. And yes, I say that every year. Don’t you?
There’s nothing like carrying a six-foot tall evergreen from the driveway, down the sidewalk and into the family room to prove that a woman of a certain age is starting to feel the one she’s at. My family will tell you that throughout most of my life, I have had only two speeds when it comes to the holidays. Full speed the month of December and full stop on January 2nd. This is because I am a Christmas lunatic. I love the smell of a freshly cut balsam and blue Christmas lights and my tiny, ceramic baby Jesus being watched over by the lambs and his parents in the manger on my dining room buffet. I love Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing “The Little Drummer Boy” while I make peanut butter fudge and “Silent Night” in a darkened church on Christmas Eve with my daughter. I love that Christmas dinner means a ham and not the big, pasty looking bird I have to deal with for a week before and then two weeks after Thanksgiving. I especially love that everyone is just a teensy bit nicer to each other in December no matter where you go. I love the magic and wonder of Christmas. If that Elf on the Shelf had been a thing back when my kids were small, I would have driven everyone around me completely nuts for the entire month of December. I know this. They do, too. After all, what is Christmas without a little magic and wonder?
And so, nobody was more surprised than I was when I began actually considering a small tree this year. Let’s face it. The big ones are a LOT of work and with two adult children who wouldn’t even be home until right before Christmas I told myself that we could get by with just a table top tree this year. I told myself that this was the year I’d start a new tradition around here and that we could all just as easily admire a small one as a large one. I’d save myself a whole lot of work. A big tree seemed like holiday overkill in this empty nest of ours.
Well, that lasted about a day and a half. And then I did what I always do. I went big and went home.
Okay, so it’s not one of those “Holy BLEEP, that’s a BIG tree” trees of past Christmases, but it’s big enough. I only put about a third of the ornaments on it that I normally do. Most of them were made from construction paper and paste by two pairs of small, pudgy hands I still remember holding to cross streets either a lifetime or four seconds ago. It has blue and white lights that sparkle and it keeps me company long after the other Empty Nester with visions of sugar cookies dancing in his head is fast asleep on all these silent nights in this house in the woods. The middle-sized tree with the sparkling lights will be the first thing the two young people, visitors from Other Places with cars stuffed full of news and laundry see when they pull up the driveway arriving at the place they still call Home.
If we’re very lucky, Life will be long. There will be more than enough small tree Christmases around here in the years to come, I’m sure. Many years when we will pack up grand baby gifts and goodies to travel to Other Places where we will admire big trees full of construction paper ornaments and love. And this will be very good. Very good, indeed.
But for now, this full speed ahead lover of Christmas magic has decided not to rush things.