Need More Christmas Ornaments!

One Christmas morning we’d opened all the gifts, and were ready for church, which started at 10. It was snowy and overcast, but I braved the cold, and took the compost bucket out before we left. It was reaching the smelly stage.  The compost bin was up a hill, on the opposite side of the driveway from the house, and a little ways into the woods. After dumping it, I turned back to the house and saw my three guys framed perfectly in the living room window. Twinkly  lights and Christmas ornaments behind them, big smiles on their faces, my youngest in my ex’s arms, and my oldest playing with his toy (I think it was a transformer), they were having some fun time while waiting on me. It was definitely one of those moments. I was wearing my just-unwrapped Christmas sweater from Coldwater Creek. I am wearing it now.

Magical thinking isn’t just for children and I thought, if I stay right here, in the sleety, snowy, cold muck, in my garden-green rubber clogs, then they’ll stay there. If I move, I thought, then they’ll move. So, I stood completely still, sort-of holding my breath, freezing and watching my family. I framed that window-picture of them in my mind, wishing I could encapsulate time.

People say you don’t lose those moments, instead you keep them in your heart forever. I never really know what that means.

Our tree had those big colored lights on it because my kids preferred those, and ours was a family tree, not a themed tree. The ornaments were very personal to us.  It had Brett Favre, arm back, ready to throw for a touchdown (oldest son), a Pac Man machine (me), the Chelsea soccer team logo (youngest son), a logging truck (ex). We had a tradition of picking out a new ornament every year.  It started with me and my ex. Our first married Christmas we chose one ornament each, hence a tree with 2 ornaments and a lot of lights.  The second year my oldest was crawling around, so there was 5 ornaments on our tree. The third year 8 ornaments, and so on. By year 20 the tree was loaded. I kept a record of each new one, the year it was purchased, and who it belonged too. They’re in a box in my attic, now.

That presented the problem of decorating a Christmas tree in my new home, sans family. Do I? Don’t I? Because if I do, what do I do with a box of family ornaments collected over 22 years. So, I settled on a Fraser Fir candle until I figured it out.

You’re thinking, one stinking candle? Scrooge.

Yes, but here’s the thing. It’s a Fraser Fir candle. If you’ve never smelled one, then go ahead and consider me chintzy. But, if you’ve smelled one, I know you’re thinking ah, good choice. You’re deciding that’s what you’ll do next year–skip the tree and get the candle that smells exactly like the tree. I might even go so far as to say they smell better than the tree. And, since they are pretty pricey, I think we can take chintzy off the table. The candle presented itself as a good solution for my Christmas dilemma.

Until this year when I caved to the Christmas tree pressure. See, everyone wants me to be happy at Christmas, and they think having a Christmas tree will make me happy. But really. It was just me making them happy. (It’s because my Christmases are mostly spent alone now, and that frets my loved ones.)

My Christmas was stuck in the attic, with ornaments counting off like soldiers in a row. One ornament, two ornaments, five this year and then whoa, 8 ornaments and more ornaments until the Christmas tree can’t hold a bow. (Okay, a bit cheesy.)

But I’m gonna have to be honest here. My new cute, little tree (cute and little do not equal cheap–just FYI) decorated with birds, a fox, a badger, and an owl is kinda nice. A very native-y, natural thing going on. I call it my S-L-O-W, L-O-C-A-L tree. And, turning the lights on at night does make the place cheerier. I’m not sure it’s the Holy Grail of happiness, but it goes a long way toward not being depressed at Christmas.

Here’s what I think happened. I got confused. How could I honor the 22 years of Christmases–all every bit as perfect as that moment by the compost pile–if I had a different one? How could I open up that box of ornaments and decorate a tree when I celebrate alone now? And how could I possibly decorate without those ornaments that literally told the life story of my family? And so, I did nothing but light a candle that smelled like a tree. I suppose I thought if I decorated another tree I was forgetting the old one. But now I know, I wasn’t replacing it, I was making room for more. More grace, more people, more love, more Christmases and even more ornaments.

Fox in a Tree

My adorable ‘Fox in a Tree’

Merry Christmas.

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