Friday, December 7, 2012

Lessons From The Christmas Tree

Today the Christmas tree comes down from the attic. Asleep in its ragged cardboard box- the wire branches pressed into zigzagged mazes- the sight of this artificial evergreen creates within me both excitement and dread. My scrooge-ish attitude as I free the deformed tree will surely change.  Won't it? After clearing off the cobwebs and mouse poop and last years stubborn tinsel, it will become beautiful again. Bright with twinkling lights, mirrored balls, feathered birds and metal stars. It is a symbol of family, sharing, hope. A place of our focus as we share music and food and unbridled laughter that rings out into the winter sky. How could I not become joyous? How could I ever have thought otherwise?

Over the years, my Christmas trees have taught me valuable lessons.
As a child I learned that even if your tree is not as big and pretty as everyone else's, it doesn't mean that Santa won't come to your house. Cookies and ham will still taste perfectly delicious, hymns will still sound sacred and sweet, and even tears will come to your eyes as you are overwhelmed with the magic of it all.

As a newlywed, my tree taught me that decorating was not as easy as it looked. That a half dozen ornaments and two strings of light are not enough. That sometimes you have to cut the tip to make room for the star. That pine needles are a pain to vacuum. And that no matter how beautiful it may seem, a Christmas tree eventually outstays its welcome.
But it also taught me that no matter if your budget says you have ten dollars left over for the week, it's the little gifts you find under the tree on Christmas morning that are truly priceless.

My Christmas trees have taught me about the passing of time. I miss watching my kids pull out ornaments and icicles and snowmen from the storage boxes, their eyes wide with excitement, their flannel pajamas catching static tinsel and cookie crumbs, their little fingers hanging unbalanced reindeer and crooked candy canes...It was like a blur of fights and fun and fir.
But afterward, when night fell and all the lights were off except the tree, a peace fell over the entire world. Snuggled up together in a trance, my kids sat dreaming of snow and gifts and love. And it was worth every sliver of broken bulb and messy carpet and pile of forsaken laundry.

I did not know then that time would pass so quickly- that soon the years would find me
pulling out the ornaments by myself. That they would still be placed crooked. That the tree would still lean. That my sweater would be striped with silver tinsel before I was finished. 

...And that later I would catch myself in that same Christmas tree trance.

However, the past few years I've come to realize that it's not the Christmas tree that brings the joy, it's the people with whom you share it. It's as simple as that.

So, my tree will be decorated today. And once the clutter and mess and work is finished, I will love it.

I just can't help but wonder what lessons I'll learn this time...


  1. Rae...thanks for that walk down Memory Lane. My younger years are stuffed full of such wonderful memories as yours. And it is a blessing that these things are engraved on our hearts before we mature enough to really understand such things. It is my family that I think about the most during the Holiday. I came from a very large family and all the older members that did such a awesome job of keeping the family together have passed on and everyone else has gone off to live their own lives distances away. I miss the mass of gifts under the tree at Grama's house with 30 or more family members there sharing a large
    Christmas dinner and opening all the gifts together on Christmas Eve. It is just my hubby and I disappointed my mother and father would be to know that the family does not spend the holidays together anymore. No one seems to want to do all the planning or do any traveling to spend time together anymore. A sad world but it seems to be a way of life now. Maybe that is why ten years ago I was blessed with the most wonderful husband and he and I enjoy each and every holiday together in our own happy way. And spending these recent holidays at the beach has been the best days ever in my life. A dream come true for me.
    I know your Holiday will be filled with joy, love and family and I am so happy for you and yours. I am looking forward to the New Year and many more of your wonderful
    Christmas hugs to you Rae, Gail

    1. Gail, you have been one of my most loyal blog followers and truest friend- if that could be possible considering we have never met! I also came from a large family (9) and it seems things have changed here also. We are all trying our best to get together more often.
      I am so happy that you love the beach and that you are making new memories there! I love seeing your photos and posts on FB.
      Thank you for stopping by, commenting, and making me smile! Hugs and Merry Christmas!

  2. mom...that brings tears to my eyes. i Love you so much!!

  3. Becca, We sure had some beautiful/ugly trees, didn't we? LOL But they were all fun to put up, though.
    Can't wait to have you and Marcus and the kids over for Christmas! Looking forward to us all going into that "tree trance" and cookie coma!
    Love you, too. With all my heart...