It’s done…finally. It took forever, but my new Christmas tree is decorated. I had been putting it off. In fact, I even considered for just one second about waiting until the week of Christmas to put it up.
I love, love, love Christmas and all the decorations, but a new, smaller, skinnier tree was taking the wind out of my holiday sails. We had had a really tall and chubby tree for 20 years. The needles were falling like rain each time I put it up, took it down or walked by it. Finally, last year, my beloved had had enough. A new tree was purchased and put it in the attic.
So, this year…with a little dread, I hauled out the new tree that I didn’t really like in advance. Yes, it was easier to put up. Yes, the floor was virtually needle-free afterward. Yes, it looked like a real tree. But my heart was not in it. I laced the big old-fashioned lights around it. And it looked OK. I kept saying in my head, “It’s just a tree.” But for so long, our other Christmas tree had been the pinnacle of our decorations! Whew!
The almost naked tree stood in the living room for three days. With Thanksgiving coming and the deadline to have everything decorated, I dragged out the ornaments. My heart still wasn’t in it. And then I opened the container. I smiled when I saw what was inside. It was a box full of memories! Each ornament had a memory or story with it!
There were paper ornaments our children made in Sunday School and/or Vacation Bible School when they were little. I found a construction paper candy cane and a faded paper tree covered with pompoms, along with a glitter covered dove (I think) with a crayon signature on the back. There were so many photo ornaments with baby and school pictures! Baby booties and teething rings were there, too, plus characters from their nursery mobile. I had ornaments from kids I babysat and ornaments from when I worked at the elementary school. I found the lacy crocheted snowflakes and star for the top I had saved up money to purchase from Lillian Vernon in the early ‘80’s. And there was our “Our First Christmas” ornament from 1980! (It was the 36th time we would put it on a tree!) We have bunches of UK ornaments (my beloved keeps moving them to the front where he can see them better) and one from the Biltmore!
Many of our ornaments were gifts from people we have gone to church with over the years. (We always try to write names and dates on the backs.) And there’s one from “Courtney”, who was in the very first Sunday School class I ever taught! I have ornaments from some of our pediatric patients at work, too. By the time each ornament had been hung, my whole feelings had changed. I looked over our tree with tears in my eyes. It wasn’t about the tree…it was about what was on the tree! The tree was only the holder of the ornaments.
Our Christmas tree is a tree full of memories. It reminds us of the years and friends in the past and present. When it comes down to it, we could have an aluminum tree like I remember from the ‘60’s, the chubby one we’d had for 20 years or even a Charlie Brown type, it wouldn’t matter. It’s not about the tree…it’s what’s on the tree!
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.