It’s a love affair. Me. And the tree.
Today was a bit of a day. You know the type of day I mean, I am sure. It was a day full of fun. But also, there was some stress going on under the seams.
It was a day that makes up the regular days of life. And then, a day where I stopped in the middle of a food court, during lunch, and prayed. Do you have those days?
This was that day.
We picked out our tree. We put it up. There was a discussion of putting off the decking of the eight and a half foot wonder until another night this week.
And then the plans solidified. The tree would be trimmed tonight.
And after every last ornament was placed by 8, 6, and almost 4-year-old hands, the tree was lit.
And I stood in the doorway of our front room and held my breath as I looked around.
One boy in a Santa suit. One without a shirt. Another in cozy jams. My husband on the couch. Alabama Christmas playing in the background. And the glow of lights amidst the fir branches. Giving the most idyllic shine on the day. Even after it had been a day.
It’s the tree. Each year, I think, “the tree is magic.” Like I am a six-year-old, once again. Like I could just sleep under the tree every night, falling into slumber with visions of sugarplums and twinkling lights overhead. Like I just want to spend every single second that I can with the tree before it has to go again for another three sixty five.
When the tree is up, my eight-year-old giggles while sipping Cherry 7up.
When the tree is up, my three-year-old chows on summer sausage and colby jack cheese as he makes his way around, looking at each and every ornament.
When the tree is up, my six-year-old runs up to me, arms outstretched, smile pasted from ear-to-ear, giggling as he declares, “This will be the best Christmas ever.”
The tree. The tree that when we were children, we’d get at a farm where we’d drink the most delicious hot cocoa that I’ve ever experienced.
The tree. The tree that when I was in high school, we’d decorate while noshing on fistfuls of my mom’s Party Mix and Wassail.
The tree. The tree that when I was in college, I would sleep next to on the couch just to feel a little closer to childhood and a little further from the idea of being a grown up.
The tree. The tree that when I first got married, felt that it needed to be just white lights and matching ornaments and now, I celebrate the mismatched managerie that adorns our pick of the year.
The tree. The tree that when we had our first and second and third babies, we began to add signs of their lives.
The tree. The tree that when we welcomed our third, was a sign of calm and peace in my heart during what otherwise would have felt heavier.
The tree that when I was so so sick, gave me a little glimpse of heaven, right here on earth.
The tree that reminds me of giving. Not getting.
Of slowing. Not going.
Of the way that so much of life is a series of years like rings on a tree, round and round, and back again. To the tree.
But it’s never just a tree.
It’s never just a holiday.
It’s never just a year.
Each and every tree is a memory.
Each and every memory holds a feeling.
Each and every memory is what makes a life life-full.
Each year, it’s hard to believe that we are once again, marking time with this tradition. That we are already here again. And yet, it feels like the tree and I have been apart for far too long.
The children jump up and down as the lights both dim and light the room. The anticipation in their eyes is as measurable as the joy in my heart as I know what they see in this tree. In this moment. In this tradition. They see hope. They see love. They see goodness. And I see it all again, like a child, when I see the tree.
It’s never just a tree. It’s another year of life having meaning. Of a season of hope. And love. It’s another reminder that the simplest of things seem to, over and over again, have the greatest of meaning.
The tree is up. And all a-twinkle. And the season is here, once again. And even after it’s been a day, the magic of the tree ushers in my heart’s season. And for that, I am so very thankful.