Wednesday, November 30, 2011
O Christmas Tree
Every year, my husband anticipates the arrival of Christmas decorating with the eagerness of my anticipation for bedtime. He enjoys it so much, I think he likes Thanksgiving just because he can get the Christmas decorations out after dinner. It's great, and the kids love it, too. One tradition he really wants to carry from his own childhood is decorating the tree together. "Jingle Bells" plays in the background, while I pour glasses of egg nog for everyone, and the girls watch with delight as their father unrolls four thousand strings of lights across the living room floor. We ooh and ah and reminisce about each ornament as the children take turns hanging them gently on the tree, careful not to drop them. The tree is enormous, but the thousands of lights we have manage to drape every branch, and, what's that? I think I just saw a snowflake fall! No? Sounds too Hallmark to be true? Well, you're right. It starts out picturesque, but the egg nog was the first mistake - the lids are inevitably taken off, spilling puddles of nog throughout the house. And yes, there are thousands of lights, and the children are mesmerized - so much so that they want to plug them all in...themselves. The ornaments last a second or two before three are broken (glass, of course), one has been repurposed as jewelry, and the rest are confiscated back to the box. The dog has found some candy canes, and is generously sharing with the baby, while the blonde re-unpacks the ornaments to set up her own ornament shop, which the brunette knows she must sabotage. I am freaking out, prying sticky years old candy canes away, vacuuming up broken ornament glass, and desperately trying to get egg nog out of the couch cushions (that is not a smell I want to come across two weeks from now). To me, decorating time is a bust. The girls are clearly not old enough to be handling ornaments, helping string lights, or drinking egg nog (too far?). That's it! Shut it down! I look to my husband, hoping to get the mutual "abort mission" look that we so often share, but he is not at all in the same state I am in. He is smiling, singing, drinking his egg nog cheerfully, calling the girls over to hang up ornaments and showing them the lights, which really do drape every branch so nicely. The girls offer placement suggestions, he tenderly lifts them up to hang it themselves, and kisses them on the way down. They are all beaming and cheery and thoroughly enjoying decorating together. My husband turns of the music, gets the star for the top of the tree, and sings "O Christmas Tree" as the girls, and I now, sit in wonder, not so much at the tree, but at my husband. While I was busy trying to manage the task, he was able to just enjoy the moment. All that was important to him was doing this small tradition as a family - it didn't matter that there was egg nog spilled (at this point, everything in our house has some kind of smell anyways), or that only the top half of the tree had ornaments on it (have to keep them out of reach, you know). He was just glad to be decorating, and to have the girls there helping. Hallmark worthy? Maybe not, but it sure brought a sentimental tear to my eye.