We picked out our annual Christmas tree this year. As the tradition goes, we pile in the car, usually late afternoon on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and drive to the same tree lot we’ve been going to since my husband and I first started dating.
After looking at just about every tree in the lot, and finally narrowing it down to “the one” — we hug it. We all hug it. It’s tradition. We have to decide as a family or we keep on looking. But once we find our tree, we hug it and we sing, from the Grinch, “Dahoo Dores Bahoo Bores welcome Christmas Christmas day” (yes, those are the words we sing because (1) nobody knows the real words and (2) it makes me happy)
Every year I gravitate towards the biggest, fullest and tallest tree. And every year my husband shakes his head smiling, raises his arms up to show me, if the tree is taller than his stretched up arms, it ain’t happenin’ – our ceilings are only so high.
So I succumb to the 7-foot trees, and once it’s home and decorated I’m gleeful. But this year, this year, my husband surprised me.
As we walked around the lot, I scowled at the smaller, insignificant trees. “Stupid small tree.” I heard myself mumbling…”stupid low ceiling…”
And then it happened. We all saw it. It was magnificent. It was easily 10-feet tall and full and more glorious than the others. It was perfect.
My husband looks at it, looks at me, and says, “How about this one?”
Anywho, we spent the evening listening to Christmas music and decorating the tree as a family. My two boys took turns on the ladder, while my daughter handed them ornaments that she wanted at the tippity top. As we pulled the ornaments from the boxes, we reminisced – karate and baseball ornaments, recapturing those days when the boys were little. Baby’s first Christmas, special ornaments in memories of those we’ve loved and lost. Homemade ornaments, and disbelief that our kids were ever that small.
Another tradition completed.
And as I sat with my husband later that night, I realized…I’m the mom now. I’m the one creating memories and traditions for my children, just as my parents have done for me. Watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with my kids earlier…that was something I used to do with my folks. We’d wait all year for that show. There was no dvd. You couldn’t just rent it On Demand. You had to wait. You took a bathroom break during the commercials and you curled up around the television together. One tv. One room.
And now it’s me, the mom, doing the same things my parents did with me. And it made me both happy and sad at the same time. Happy because I’m so blessed to live the life I’ve always dreamed of – but sad too because I miss my childhood. I miss it all. I miss being little and wearing my footie pajamas, curled up on the sofa between my parents. It’s gone by so fast. I’m the mom now. Me.
Tonight I looked at the tree, and I breathed in that beautiful new Christmas tree smell, and I closed my eyes. I was suddenly back at my childhood home, it was Christmas Eve, and we were listening to Robert Goulet singing, “This Christmas I Spend With You” — there was a ham in the oven, the house was beautifully decorated. My dad was behind the bar smiling because he knew the party was about to begin and man, did he love to host.
My mom, wearing a red sweater and matching apron, dimming the lights and turning up the music, and making sure the house was perfect before the guests arrived.
My folks made everything special. Every day. Every occasion. Every holiday. Everything.
My dad called me today when he saw a picture of my tree this year – because you know how I love Facebook, and have to post in real-time! He asked me if I remembered going with him every year to pick out our tree, when I was little. My mom always told us to get a “normal” tree – but we’d always come home with the biggest, fattest and most beautiful tree ever.
Yes, dad. I remember. I remember it all. I remember everything.
You taught me well. You led by example. You gave me a magical childhood.
And someday when my kids are grown and perhaps have started families of their own, I hope they will close their eyes, breathe in that new Christmas tree smell, and remember our home, our traditions and maybe for a second or two, wish they were little again too.