I decided it was time. It's the week of Thanksgiving and it was a quiet night at home, so I announced, "It's time to put up the Christmas tree!" E jumped up and down as he squealed with delight, "Yayyyyyy!!!!!"
The tubs of ornaments and decor came down from the closet and the giant tub containing the 7.5' monstrous tree was hauled in from the garage. That tree was no match for all 5'4" 1?? pounds of me. Last year it was prominently displayed in the front room for all who passed by to catch a glimpse of the lit tree from the double windows. But I realized we are NEVER in that room, so this year I decided to put it in the family room, right beside the TV we rarely turn on, but in the center of where we spend the majority of our time. It's our tree after all, and I want to be able to enjoy the sight of it.
There it stood. A bare Christmas tree with only its white lights. I started to dig around in the tubs. "Where's my tree skirt? I know I had a tree skirt..." I couldn't remember what it looked like. I didn't recall its design or color at all. I didn't even know what I was looking for.
I glanced at the box of neatly packed away ornaments. They were organized, which had my name written all over it, but I didn't recognize a single one of them. "Those aren't my ornaments," I thought to myself.
And then it happened. "Seriously?! Is this happening again?" It was a conversation in my head and because my bright-eyed little boy was still enjoying all the Christmas splendor, I had to keep my emotions under wraps.
I have been anticipating the holiday season since October and I had already gone through grieving my Christmas decorations last year, so I wasn't prepared for it to hit again.
Memories of the high heeled shoe and the matching purse I got from a dear friend in our annual ornament exchange. The Mickey Mouse ornament boasting "Baby's First Christmas" hand delivered from Disney World. Thoughts of the candy collection I had acquired. Or the dozens of snowmen I had accumulated. One of my favorite collections, an ornament set that told the life of Christ. And not to mention an ornament for each year of my life that mom had contributed to my collection over the years.
The tree was up but the excitement of decorating quickly faded with the thought of putting up ornaments and decorations that had no meaning and carried no memories.
E was busy going through a small box of ornaments for his own 4' tree. He realized the big tree was bare and asked where all the ornaments were. In a moment of honesty, I shared with him that I was sad because I missed all the Christmas things I had lost in the fire.
"It's okay mom. You can have my ornaments. Christmas is for sharing," he said matter-of-factly.
I love his tender heart. And even though I was tender-hearted myself over the loss of "things" I realized that new beginnings aren't always bad. New memories are yet to be made. New ornaments are yet to be purchased. The "stuff" I have right now - it's just "stuff" - and that's part of the problem. I'm a sentimental person, so even though I've been able to replace that which was lost, it doesn't have meaning or carry a memory. At least not yet.
As I started to dig around in his box of ornaments, he pulled out the salt dough trains and planes we had made last year. "Look mom! These are what I made!" There was a paper hand with eyes and a nose to look like a reindeer. I put his hand up to cut out to see how much he had grown since last year. The coffee filter folded in half served as angel wings with a picture of him and a halo. I have to admit, those homemade ornaments are the most prized collection I have.
I'm typing this blog as I stare at an undecorated Christmas tree. I carry the memories with me even though they don't hang on my tree. It's a clean slate. A new beginning waiting to happen. New memories yet to be made. New meaning yet to come. New traditions to begin.
Excuse me while I start decorating...