Wednesday, December 15, 2010

O Christmas Tree My Christmas Tree

The decorating for this Christmas is done. It isn't much, but it's definitely more than I felt like doing when I started and I am happy that it is all there. I put some LED lights around the little pines we have on the side of the house right before Thanksgiving. I wanted the house to look cheerful for Sean and Emily when they came.

The decorating inside got a little slower start. I put the Creche up on the mantle during the first week of Advent, as I always do. I think it looks particularly beautiful on this mantle. For me, the Creche keeps the nativity story front and present during the season that is Christmas. I wonder what Jesus would have to say about the things that are being done in his name, not just during the Christmas season but in all seasons, by his priests and his people of all Christian persuasions. Thinking about that too long depresses me, so lets talk about our tree.

First let me say that we, the kids and I, were relative newbies in the "going into the woods to get your own tree" business. We didn't make the mistake so many do and pick a tree that is way too big for our space and then has to be butchered to fit it. We sort of went the other way, and picked something a little short (about 5'5"), spindly and frankly a little sad. It is also a split-trunk tree, basically two spindly little trees side-by-side. We had it in the house for over a week before I decorated it. That was about a week ago.

That sad spindly little tree took hours to decorate and it looks like I threw stuff at it! But I love the colors in the sparse lights, and have left the tree on night and day since I decorated it. Each of the ornaments that are hung have sentimental and even historical meaning to me. Many of them were the Mr. and Mrs. Claus ornaments that I gifted to Bill each year that we were married, first from one Hallmark series and then another and then some oddball Santa ornaments when Hallmark could no longer satisfy my yearly need. As I put each on the tree, I reflected on the Christmas it represented. Where were we living that year, what were we doing in our jobs and lives, what were the major events of the year. It was a sweet day of memories, but I have to admit that I took a lot of breaks!

One of the newsletters I get suggests that I go out and buy one of those ornaments this year, to honor the memory of our tradition and commemorate the passage of the year. I think I might, but I think I have to find something other than Mr. and Mrs. Claus to establish the beginning of a new tradition.

I also hung a half dozen or so of the White House commemorative ornaments. It's a rule, or something, that if you live in the DC Metro area and work for the government in any capacity, that you have to at least try to collect these things. I tried. My collection reflects less than 33% of the years we lived in the area, so I guess I failed as a collector. They are, most of them, very beautiful and they are all unique; however, they were also a little pricey. You can't be a collector and be worried about price.

Among my favorite ornaments are the little handcarved angels I bought in a wood carving shop in Oberammergau, Germany in 2000. They are only about 1 1/2" high, with amazing detail in the face and hands. I have three that are painted and three that are unpainted. I'm not sure why this odd number and arrangement. I think when I bought them I intended to give them away to two different people, and then couldn't bear to part with them.

Because the tree has two tops, and they are not very strong, my angel tree-topper is taking the year off with a lot of the other ornaments and decorations. I put a few of the yearly favorites out on the dining room table along with the gorgeous poinsettia I was given at Thanksgiving. There is the Santa sleigh and reindeer that a neighbor handcrafted in ceramics and the troika of angels playing instruments I bought from Home Interiors when Josh was a wee bairn. Then with a few Christmas towels in the powder room I was all done.

I'm just not convinced that it's Merry Christmas. I have the reminders all around me, and yet I am clearly aware that, with the exception of the great pleasure I take in putting gifts together and enjoying the lights and colors, this Christmas is missing key parts. Every Christmas from here on out will be missing those parts. The good thing is that I am now familiar with this knowledge and with these feelings.  I can acknowledge them without giving them aid and comfort!

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