“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.” -Maya Angelou
“The Christmas tree is a symbol of love, not money. There’s a kind of glory to them when they’re all lit up that exceeds anything all the money in the world could buy.” -Andy Rooney
Before I continue with this post, I feel like I need to try to explain to you the significance that Christmas trees hold for me. I don’t think you will truly understand the message I am trying to convey with this post if I don’t share a short backstory with you beforehand. I love Christmas. I love celebrating the birth of Jesus. There is just something about Christmas that makes you feel brand new. A sense of hope, love, joy, and peace hangs in the air that isn’t always present year round. The tree was always a big part of Christmas time for my family. We loved the big tree, with lots of lights. It is something we did together every year while drinking hot chocolate and listening to Christmas Carols or watching Christmas classics on TV. It is beautiful. As a writer, I still find myself falling short of finding the exact words to convey the emotions that I feel when sitting by a beautifully lit tree. I have written about my MaMaw Nina a few times and as you may know, she means the world to me. I miss her terribly. I have a story that I want to share with you and maybe you will understand where I get some of my love for Christmas and magnificent Christmas trees.
In December of 2011, I was planning on spending a few days with MaMaw. A couple of days before I left to go to her house, she mentioned to me that it had been years since she had put up her BIG tree and that she had always wanted a “themed” Christmas tree. She felt like having a “themed” tree would be very ADULT of her So when I got to her house…I took her shopping. She decided she wanted a purple and silver tree. We went looking ALL over Brownwood for purple and silver ornaments for her adult tree. I’ll never forget while we were searching the Christmas memory she decided to share with me (now, of course, I had already heard it at least a 100 times). She had a tradition that she would always sleep next to the tree with the lights on at least the first night after it was put up, even as an adult. She always loved the lights!! That night after we had put up her tree, drank hot chocolate and ate Chik-Fil-A…I asked her if she was ready for bed. She smiled at me and said, “Oh no, Lana. It’s tradition. I’ll sleep right here with the lights on all night.” So that night, I cuddled up on the couch and she cuddled up in her recliner (where she had been sleeping for months since she got sick). We watched “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and fell asleep watching her beautiful “themed-adult” Christmas tree. I will never forget that day/night. I believe with all my heart she knew that it would be her last. She passed 4 months later. I’m so glad that I could give her the “adult” tree that she always wanted. ♥ I love you so very much, Mamaw ♥ A Christmas hasn’t passed since then that I don’t think of this memory. The picture above is the tree we decorated together that night. I am so glad that I took this picture.
So when I was 2 years old, my Daddy Norman bought me this tree (to the left here.) We put this tree up almost every year and when I moved out, I started putting this tree up every year. This tree is 30 years old this year, and this is the first year I put up another (new) tree. 🙁
Last year when we put it up I had to Duck Tape a few of the limbs on. I knew that it wouldn’t last much longer. Last year my Granny gave me her tree that was practically brand new. It is beautiful. Has “snow” on it and already has lights.
It wasn’t just the tree that meant so much to me. It was who gave it to me. My Dad bought me that tree when he and my mom were just dating. He wanted me to have a big tree that year and he said it would always be mine. <3 To me, it has always been a promise. A promise of love. A promise of family. A promise that he would always be there for me.
This year my parents separated and filed for divorce. The irony isn’t lost on my “writer” heart. My parent’s marriage fell apart and the tree that was a promise given to me, long ago, was falling apart too. The little girl in me cried, a lot, before putting up my new tree this year. I couldn’t help but feel like everything was changing. The holidays and traditions that I have always held so near and dear to my heart were fading away. Christmas was always such a magical time for me. I didn’t want anything to darken it for me. Ever since becoming a mom, I knew that I wanted to pass on the magic and power of Christmas to my children. They have always loved the decorations, and in particular the Christmas tree. I might feel like a lost little girl this year, but I wanted to keep it together for my boys so that they could still enjoy the magic of this time of year.
On November 1, we started putting up our “new” tree. As I watched my boys put our beautiful decorations on our tree, I started to notice something. They didn’t see a different tree. They still had the same smiles as they did every year. Nikola still jumped up and down when I told him it was time to put up the tree. Sagan still begged to help put all the “boo” ones on (AKA blue ornaments). They still asked to turn off all the lights once we were finished. It wasn’t different to them. It was still a tree and it was still one of their favorite things to do that they look forward to each year. Yes, the tree looks different. It is taller and not as full or big around. But it got me to thinking. This new tree is a great symbol of how my year had been. My parents were divorcing. My family seemed like we were drifting apart. The holidays were going to be different, just like this new tree. But the core of it all was still the same. The love, the promise of a family that my Dad had given me 30 years ago was still there. It might look different, but it was still there. I think it is so symbolically beautiful to think this new tree that replaced the tree from my Daddy was given to me from my Granny and Pappy, which are my dad’s parents. It might not be the exact same, but being from them made it seem like we were keeping the tradition alive, at least in a sense. It was still a “family” tree. It was still a promise of love and family. It was still something that put a huge grin on the faces of my little boys.
Things change. People change. Situations change. Traditions change. But we can choose to move forward, with a deep breath and choose to see the good in the new. Our tree is full of possibilities and I can’t wait to start filling it up with new memories! <3