The big tree, it is up. The gleaming, grown up, red and gold ornaments shine sophisticated from it’s branches. The remnants of my grandmother’s crocheted collection mix in, and I am happy. The little tree, it is up, too. All the construction paper strands and the clumsy gingerbread men hang on it’s slender frame. Christmas time has come.
I had visions, when we put Decorating Day on the calendar, of sweet family time. Of John Denver and the Muppets singing to us as we placed the globes on the tree and talked about our favorites. Perhaps hot chocolate, and a fire. We would have soup and crusty bread after, and put a happy memory in the books.
I did not anticipate a Target trip interruption after entire strands of lights gave up on us, or a cranky toddler who would much prefer Goldi and Bear over decorating, and a pre-teen who cannot be torn from her book to reminisce with me. Did not like sending the children to the kids tree to give their Dad time to hang the fragile ornaments without a toddler smashing them to bits, while I cut potatoes in a mad rush to get a new-to-me soup recipe started in time to eat before midnight. I did not like this, I did not like that, I wanted my vision back instead of this messy, grumpy reality.
When the chaos comes and the plans go awry, the choice comes on quick and demands our action: Call the night a failure and wallow in my self-pity that all was not hot-chocolate-and-Muppets merriment, having failed at a goal that only we know? Or keep our eyes on the true goal and realize these are their own memories in the making? I didn’t know this was the year we would finally replace the hesitant white lights. The year I would have enough post-baby energy to have two trees again. The year the big girls finally realized that the kid tree existed to separate their perfectly imperfect child creations from my shiny, shatterable orbs. (Sorry, kids.)
I managed, this time, to take a deep breath and choose the better part, throwing the vegetables in the pot still in time to help direct the decorating. We reminded the big girls of who made what and when, and allowed them to move some of their creations onto the coveted spots on the branches of the big tree. I took a moment to enjoy the toddler ringing a bell ornament as she waddled happily around the house telling us all about the newly-replaced Christmas lights. I sat during a quiet moment and enjoyed the sight of my husband peacefully relaxing, for a few moments, in the glow of the tree that he had done battle with just hours earlier.
And now… Christmas has come to our house, ready for more new and unforeseen memories. I’m sure there will be broken ornaments, squabbles and hurt feelings in the shadow of these trees. Yet their lights will also glow in the background of kindnesses, warmth, and love as we practice being better. Practice forgiveness for the wanted things that will not come, and gratitude for the little and big moments that, wanted or not, we need. Christmas has come.
Encouragement Spoken Here
"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." Proverbs 25:11