It’s beginning to look a lot like “I am not really into Christmas”….or am I?
I am the most uptight person alive when it comes to decorating for Christmas. Lugging out the 5 Christmas trees, 3 Christmas Villages, 3 nativity scenes and the random knick knack and stuffed Santa Claus was always the highlight of my entire year. Christmas was always work. I made it a chore. A chore that no one else in my family wanted to participate in. Mainly because it wasn’t fun, I made it my life’s goal to pour my heart and soul into making the house look like a Winter Wonderland, but didn’t want the family to be involved for fear they may put an ornament in the wrong place on the tree. I did enjoy the help that was given to me when it came to pulling out the 20 boxes of ornaments, lights and garland….not to mention the villages and nativities. Climbing into the trees to hang lights wasn’t my forte either, so I gladly kept my feet planted firmly on the ground as I barked out orders from below.
I spent 12 years of our marriage putting the Christmas decorations up on my own. As he prepared for hunting season, I prepared for Christmas. He dreaded the mundane task of dragging everything out of the attic, and all I could think about was surprising him with a museum of glitter and garland when he returned from hunting. It was always my intention to make him proud of me. For him to walk in and stand in awe at the hard work and hours (Blood Sweat and Tears!!) I had poured in to make it the best Christmas ever!
Every year, he came home….gave a half hearted “looks nice” and plopped his clothes down for me to wash. The house that once smelled like Cinnamon had a strong odor of camp fire and deer urine.
The first year that he left us, I was so distraught, but I knew I had to decorate for the kids. I trudged in the attic as I sobbed hysterically, lowering the trees down by myself. Then calling my Daddy to help me because I quickly realized that I couldn’t do it on my own. I watched my little boy try so hard (as he still does every year) to be the man of the house as he would go outside with his little shovel and snow suit and shovel the driveway, taking a break every now and then to eat the snow! (which I find disgusting!!) He and my Dad would surprise me with decorating the outside. I stayed inside, instead of barking out orders as I was just truly grateful that they were so kind to help me.
While decorating the tree, I cried uncontrollably as I put up the “First Christmas Together” ornaments, the family ornaments that displayed our names as Snowmen on a sled, the Baby’s First Christmas….I quickly realized that our Christmases would never be the same, yet I was not ready to give up the ornaments that I so proudly displayed every year on our “Memory Tree”.
It wasn’t until last Christmas that I stopped crying, I stopped romanticizing the bittersweet memories that no longer existed. Although, I always want my kids to remember Christmas as a family, I felt no need to keep the “First Christmas Together” ornament. Who would want that as a family heirloom when I am gone? I realized that part of my life did not exist anymore, so alone one night as I was decorating the tree, I broke the ornament and I threw it in the trash. At that moment, I felt as though I was Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes….I almost shouted Towanda!!! (yet my heart still felt just as broken as the ornament)
December 7th, 2015. I am sitting in my living room watching my kids decorate the Christmas trees by themselves. My son, who isn’t tall enough to decorate the top of the tree, yet determined that is where he wanted to decorate, stood on the coffee table. My daughter sat on the floor and wanted to hear the story behind each ornament. My Exchange Student eagerly took over the task of the heavy lifting and took the top of the tree (because I am vertically challenged) as I spread out the branches on the bottom. We opted not to put up the Christmas villages and the Nativity scenes this year for the sake of time. (the first time in 16 years)
I took pictures…actual pictures of them decorating!! Not the normal pictures of me handing them an ornament to put on the tree, so I could brag on social media that we decorated as a family. All lies!!!
The outside lights don’t match….the giant blow ups are not what I would consider “classy or elegant” but the kids picked them out. The teens decorated the outside while I sat in the yard as we laughed at them climbing the big tree in the front yard and my nice climbing on the shoulders of the Exchange Student as he yelled, “My Gosh, you are so heavy!!” and almost dropped her.
My little guy just fell asleep next to me while watching A Christmas Story. I am sitting here looking for the missing garland, the villages, and the massive amounts of fake snow that used to don the house. He’s 10, and this is the first year I let him and his sister take over. For some reason, that makes me sad as I hold him in my arms tonight. To think that this is the first year I completely let go of being the Christmas Nazi and let them just be little kids. Making Memories with their Mom.
As I sit here tonight taking in my surroundings, I finally feel at peace. Happy. Satisfied. It finally feels like HOME.
It is well with my soul……