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!

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