The Tree.

A good friend of mine posted on her Facebook status the joy her Christmas tree was giving her this year and posted a picture of the tree. It is a beautiful tree and my heart was warmed as she shared her special moment of gratitude and family memories.

The room our Christmas tree is in, is the only, and I mean only, room in our house that is clutter free, toy free and is an oasis of calm. The room is quiet, clean, simply decorated and looks upon our quiet suburban street, except during December when our tree blocks our view, but sparkles wonderfully for all the neighbourhood to see. I love it and do not spend nearly enough time in it.

As I sipped the last of my wine, very late tonight, I took the glass into my little sanctuary and looked at our tree. Painstakingly decorated by three sets of little hands each one placing their own small but growing accumulation of decorations on the slim branches. Jacob, the little guy, insisted on putting every single decoration on, even those ones I had put to the side as “retired.” It is the first year all three of them have the ability to decorate most of the tree. Well, at least the lower half of the tree.

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As I gazed upon the twinkling white lights and thought…hmmm..there is a lot of red in this tree….I wondered what I thought of my tree. It’s pretty. Not real to my disappointment but a concession I made with a husband who had to acquiesce to having a tree in his home next to his menorah. It is not heavily decorated but I kind of like it that way. We added homemade garland from a craft my girls did with their grandmother a few weeks ago of pretty red and silver pipe cleaners pinched together with glittering beads circling the upper half of the tree. (Because I haven’t had time to go get the materials to continue the garland all the way to the bottom!) There are little stuffed snowman and woodland animals. Old wooden decorations of angels and jack-in-boxes. Shiny red and green balls hand painted with gold flowers and glitter from a long ago shopping trip. A star of David hangs proudly next to the driedel decoration, both gifts to my husband for being a good sport about our multi-faith household. Then I remember the cinnamon stick reindeer I still have that adorned a present one year from my grandmother or the Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas wooden decoration that was one of my first own decorations from years and years and years ago when I still lived at home. These are my precious ornaments, most of them gifts from my late maternal grandmother. In fact, the stuffed animals and tiny wooden decorations were things I inherited from her estate.

Every year I give each child a new decoration. I have done it since their first Christmas with the plan one day to pass  onto each of them their own decorations as they start their own family traditions, a long, long, long time from now. Many of our decorations mark a milestone for our children. Their first Christmas, their second Christmas etc…Elmo gave way to ballerinas which gave way to cute elves with first, middle and youngest decorations (and all Mom’s favourite) to fairly-traded sequinned hearts and stars or a carved wooden gingerbread man. Also our tree has many handmade decorations. Those decorations each child secretly worked on at school to bring home to us. I will never have the heart to dispose of these precious memories, especially if there is a picture attached.

So although our tree is eclectic, it really is a memory tree. It holds memories of a girl having Christmas at my grandparent’s farm to a teenager who rolled her eyes at a tacky glittering santa decoration from a well-intentioned grandmother but secretly stashed it for future use to buying my first grown-up set of beautiful red and green glass baubles. Our tree reflects that we respect different cultures and religions in our house and the birth of our first, second and third child. It holds their growth each year via pictures and their interests that arrive and flee so easily. The tree holds the memory of my grandmother who bought and passed on many of her own decorations so I could have a beautiful tree and perhaps, remember her a little each year.

As you decorate or gaze upon your tree this year, take a moment and reflect. What does it signify for you? Simply happy family time? A way to brighten up your room in a festive spirit? Or perhaps when you look again, your unique way of decorating the tree, tells you more than you realize. Embrace it. Remember it and have a wonderful holiday season!

Is there a re-set button?

Nearly a month since I last posted…gasp! However, as busy people and parents can attest, sometimes priorities are given to other things and in my case, any spare moment I could  take was spent finishing all the homework from a writing course. But finally, the homework is all turned in and I have made headway on a personal writing project. This is an accomplishment for me and I am excited to move it forward in the upcoming new year.

My thoughts today turn towards holiday preparation, packing for vacation and sitting relishing in the feeling of not being under deadline for a day or so. My late nights continue, except instead of having a glass of wine with my ever-increasing complex characters, I am hiding elves while trying to get my house “party-ready” for an upcoming soiree in between holiday shopping online to save on much precious time. Life is never boring.

This morning as I stumbled downstairs, after insisting Mr. L and I crack open a french Gamay Noir (avoiding the temptation of the beautiful Italian wines being held back for our party) the night before, my bleary-eyes turned on the coffee maker while I patted myself on the back for making lunches while enjoying said glass(es) of wine. We were still running a little behind schedule, but not too bad as the kids gobbled up pre-made chocolate chip pancakes with bananas on the side and ventured off to finish getting ready. Then I hear Elizabeth,

“EWWWW!!!! Mooomm!!!”

I run to our main floor powder room and find her holding one foot up in a semi-tree pose. Asking her what is wrong, I smell it and then I see it. The hugest pile of dog poop in the middle of our foyer. Footprints back into the powder room mark where my eldest daughter of nearly eight years old somehow stepped with her bare feet in the massive pile.

Now, our dear yellow lab is a an older guy, nine and a half, and admittedly a great dog. However, this past year, we have started to notice the poor guy just cannot hold his bowels as long as he used to. Especially if whomever was responsible for the last walk did not ensure he finished all his business. It is simply becoming too hard for him to wait on our crazy morning schedule in the mornings and when he needs to go, he goes.

So this morning, after finding his accident, I put the old guy out in our backyard in case he wasn’t quite done. With only two sips of coffee in my bloodstream and my english muffin turning stone cold, I clenched my jaw as I began the process of cleaning up the floor and my oldest daughter hearing the shower go on upstairs. Oh right. Mr. L has time to have a shower.

“Honey, how did you not see that?” I ask.

“I don’t know…I just didn’t.”

Sighing I clean her feet hoping it’s not on her pants too and tell her to finish getting ready. Mumbling under my breath that wouldn’t it be nice to have a hot breakfast just one day,  I run to deal with the preschooler who just announced he’s finished #2 and waiting for me in the upstairs bathroom. It’s official, I am surrounded by poop.

Mr. L still has not made an appearance. I calmly ask  our younger girl to go get her coat on as she needs to get to her bus, in five minutes. As I’m cleaning up Jacob and getting him dressed I hear another sound.

“Owwww!!! I’m okay..I think. There’s no blood.”

Leaving Jacob in his batman underwear, I run down the stairs to find Elizabeth grabbing her forehead.

“What happened?” I ask worried she has once again split her head open. After all, this is a child who walked into the corner of a wall and required three stitches.

“I was trying to warm up your breakfast in the microwave and I opened it up hitting my forehead.”

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Prying her hand away from her forehead, a sizeable goose-egg is quickly forming complete with a bruise line similar to the door from the microwave. Taking her downstairs to get ice, Mr. L finally arrives and asks what is going on. Looking around at a girl in bare feet holding her forehead, a preschooler with a dirty face in underwear and a five-year old who is starting to panic she is going to miss her bus, I ask,

“Is there a re-set button to start the day again?”

Thankfully, with Mr. L’s help, Audrey got to her bus on time, Elizabeth rested until her bus drop-off and the goose egg seemed to shrink a bit and Jacob and I finally got dressed.

As I reflect on the comedic tone my life  as Jacob runs around singing “Bubble, bubble, bubble bubble guppies,” I can only smile and vow to manage Jake the dog’s walks better and pay attention to the sometimes neglected sixth member of our family. After all he’s earned having his golden years be pleasant and full of attention. He did watch three babies usurp his original place in our household.

I will try to remember to watch what I mumble around a very observant young girl who is trying her best to help her sometimes frazzled mom out. But I will admit, it warms my heart to have the kindness of a family member thrown my way. Sometimes parents, or this mom in particular, feels there is little gratitude from our families for all I do.

Lastly, I will pat myself on the back. In all the crazy that is sometimes my house in the mornings, I kept my cool remembering there is still a half bottle left of that Gamay Noir to enjoy tonight.

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What a way to start the day…