Editor’s note: (Oh wait, that’s me)… This post is a week later than I meant for it to be, but I think it’s still worth a publish. 🙂
Oh, mercy. This is going to be one of those sappy sentimental Christmas-y posts.
Yes. Yes it is. Just thought I’d warn you before you click the “Read more”. If you don’t want to read a bit of sappiness (get it…? Tree? Sap?? HA!), check back later.
My mom and dad were in town for a few days. As always, it was delightful to have them around. On Sunday night I said goodbye to them, went home, and immediately set up my Christmas tree.
It didn’t take me too long, namely because the tree is about 3 feet tall. I actually had enough time to run to Wal-Mart and grab a few more ornaments to spruce it a bit (Get it? SPRUCE?).
The colors and ornaments look nicely themed (if I do say so myself), but the end result is not what I would choose if I were to sit down and start from scratch to plan out my ideal Christmas tree. The victorian-flavored dusty pink, white, silver and gold is pretty, but one might suggest that it’s not quite me.
Except… it is me. It’s about thirteen years of me. And it makes me really happy.
Growing up, our Christmas tree was never very themed. Between preschool craft projects, longstanding favorite decorations, and the fact that each family member picked out one new ornament each year, it was a somewhat messy but fun hodge-podge of color, shape, and personality. Decorating the tree was a big event each year: We would usually all pick the tree out together. Dad would set it up, untangle the lights, and light the tree himself. But then we would all take turns putting ornaments on — usually accompanied by wassail and snack foods — and spend the evening making the tree pretty, enjoying each other’s company, lighting a fire in the fireplace, and sometimes watching a Christmas movie.
Several years before I moved out to Kansas City, we started having a beautiful themed tree. Seeing as my brother and I had seriously outgrown popsicle-stick craft phase, the timing worked out well. It was a little sad to see the old toybox of a tree retired, but it was time, and it was good.
However, my mom — awesome person that she is — packed up for me all the ornaments I picked out or been given over the years. (Well, almost all — she did omit the wooden anthropomorphized cactus-cowboy, which is okay by me.) She even included a few of her own ornaments that had meant a lot to her and were some of my favorites growing up. This is what I now unpack every Christmas, and this is what I found myself handling after saying goodbye to my parents and missing them already.
(Side note: I now know why there are so many melancholy Christmas songs. If you’ve just said goodbye to your family, and your car radio promptly greets you with “Frosty the Snowman”, its enough to tempt one to punch aforementioned fictional snowman right in his corncob-piped kisser. I mean, hypothetically speaking.)
(Side note to the side note: Just kidding. Mostly.)
So Sunday night, I began decorating my little tree (“O Tinybaum”?). The ornaments are probably technically too big for it, but I don’t really care. They make me happy. They are mostly pink and involve a lot of ballerinas — pink was my favorite color for many years (although it has since been bumped out by purple), and for a long stretch of my life I was rather fascinated with all things dance-related.
I found the little Precious Moments plate that marked my first Christmas. I found the little pink-clad baby angel that marked my mom’s.
I found the ceramic Clara (of “The Nutcracker Ballet”) ornament that my mom had gotten for me. I found the silly wooden Sugar Plum Fairy ornament that was hers, but she gave to me, because every year I loved that thing and loved getting to hang it on the tree. It’s not even pink. But it’s on my little tree.
I found the clear glass ornament that contains a dollhouse-sized christmas tree, teddy bear, and baby. My mom had made that for me when I was very small. I remember her telling me about it when I was old enough to understand and care. I remember thinking it was the BEST THING EVER that my mom had actually made me my very own ornament. I also remember that she hung it on the tree herself (because I was little enough to be apt to break it), and she always hung it — along with my brother’s handmade ornament, and the rest of the glass decorations — way at the top of the tree, so us two rambunctious kiddos wouldn’t accidentally (or, come to think of it, purposefully) knock it off and break it.
I remember having my mind blown a little bit when I was old enough to hang it up myself. I still hung it as high up on the tree as I could reach, because it seemed like the only fitting place for it.
It is now hanging at the very top of my 3-foot tree.
Even besides the ornaments I have, and the memories they summon (“I think I was given this one when I was three…” “I picked this one out when I was twelve…”), I found myself thinking back with great fondness regarding the seventeen Christmases I spent with my family before heading out here for Kansas City.
In the earlier years, there were the big silver globs of tinsel falling off the tree from when Adam and I weren’t quite old enough to get the concept of tasteful accents, and just threw wads of the stuff at it. (Especially where it was too high to reach… what else were we to do?)
There was the annual dispute over who got to hang up the ornament of the little tubby mouse “Gus” from Cinderella.
There was the mechanized “Santa’s Workshop” ornament that plugged right into a Christmas light socket — Adam and I loved that thing, but it often was not plugged in, as the incessant clicking and whirring could drive one to distraction.
There was the year we got to go to a real-deal Christmas tree farm, pick out our tree, and Dad actually cut it down himself. That was bogglingly cool to me, and made me a little bit prouder of that tree every time I saw it and thought of it.
There was the excitement of checking the tree through December to see if a new present had showed up there yet. Then there was the shaking and guessing, which we actually were allowed to do. We were never that good at it, unless it was clothing or Legos.
There was the year my parents sent my brother and I on somewhat of a scavenger hunt to find our biggest, coolest present that year (a build-it-yourself, five-foot-tall robot). Then there was the clue that directed us to look at the place “where lumpy stuff collects”… and let’s just say Adam and I didn’t head for the candy bowl like we were supposed to.
So I’m grateful for my little tree. I’m grateful that my mom saw to it that I had a little bit of Christmas in my own room, and then was able to take it with me when I moved to KC. But I’m most grateful for how my parents have gone wayyyyy above and beyond to cultivate fun memories, and most importantly, a family history of love, honor — really enjoying each other. Though I’ve lived on my own for six years now, seeing that little tree reminds me of how great my family is and how amazing it is that I was brought up with, and still enjoy the company and support of, some of the coolest, godliest people on the planet.
I like my little tiny-baum. Even if it does make me pine for my childhood a little bit. (Get it? PINE? Oh, I crack myself up. Fir real.)