It is exactly five days before Christmas and there is no partridge in our tree. (No pears either for that matter.) Our naked Christmas Tree sits in the corner of our living room waiting. Waiting for someone to dress him in the 100 or so holiday ornaments we typically place on him joyfully each year. (I don’t know why I’m referring to our tree as a him, just seems fitting.).
Ten days ago, we joyfully chose him and cut him down from a Christmas Tree farm. (Okay joyfully may be too strong. There was yelling and some tears on the WAY to pick him out, but then there was JOY once we found him, and cut him down.) It was a Sunday and my husband had just brought his mom home the day before where she lives 45 minutes away. Since my father-in-law passed away suddenly two months ago, she has been staying with us most weekends.
By the time we placed Mr. Tree in the stand, and let him sit for a day for branches to fall, Monday had turned into Tuesday and then Wednesday and before long it was the weekend again and still he sat undecorated.
We have a tradition which began when the girls were little of decorating the tree all together on a weekend. We spread out all the homemade ornaments, reminiscing about each one and who made it and where it came from. It is a happy tradition, and one which we just haven’t done this year.
As any parent with teen children know (or for that matter any age really) getting anything done other than the normal dinner and clean up during the week is nearly impossible let alone decorate a Christmas Tree.
I have decorated the house, and it feels like Christmas, but without the tree decorated something seems to be missing. To be honest we weren’t going to send cards this year. Since my father-in-law passed away unexpectedly two months ago, it’s been a very emotional time. My husband is working crazy hours at work and managing his father’s business, then driving every weekend back and forth to get his mom. And I’m trying to plan activities for us to do with her so she feels less alone. The girls are spending a lot of quality time with their grandmother so there has been some joy throughout. I did manage to get photos taken of the girls, as they are growing so fast, so now we do have cards.
But life has been unusually sad and crazy and just different these past few months.
Thus our naked tree.
I’ve thought about this a lot these past few days, and realize that as much as I miss our ornament tradition, it’s not the end of the world. There are so many things more important, like being here together, love and kindness and family… and the real meaning of Christmas, but I also know the girls miss our tradition, too. I feel like I’ve let them down and am trying to figure out when and how we will find time as a family to do this before Christmas Day.
Despite my earlier thoughts about trying to do anything during the week, I set aside a few nights earlier this week to decorate the tree, but as best laid plans go, they went astray as each girl began getting sick, even spending a night in the Emergency Room. They are on the mend, and hopefully 11’s fever will break soon, but we are not anywhere near ready to begin decorating.
As I write this it’s midnight and I’ve just finished addressing another stack of cards. I pass by the tree and honestly it looks pretty standing there all in white lights. Do we really need ornaments this year? Perhaps we can start a new tradition and decorate it on December 26th.
I love Christmas, I do. It’s my favorite time of the year. But this year it’s been a little off, and I feel like the naked tree I pass every day is a reminder. Perhaps it’s because we are missing my father-in-law’s laugh. Or seeing my mother-in-law’s lonely and sad look whenever she thinks of life without him. Or feeling like I should be doing more with the girls, or writing my final for grad school that’s put me almost over the edge. Or sick children. Or the million other things that parents do every single day. It’s enough to juggle work, sick children and every day normal life stuff, add Christmas and it’s a whole other layer of stress. From shopping and baking and buying gifts for family and friends, truffles for office party, wrapping, and not to mention keeping said kids from getting us sick, it’s a wonder moms don’t hide under covers this time of the year. How do we keep it all together for our family?
My head hurts thinking of how I’m going to pull off Christmas in five days, when I hear my youngest call up to me. Her fever has spiked and she feels like she’s going to be sick.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. Especially the moms who, in my opinion, deserve five days in bed, the Hallmark Movie Channel and lots of chocolate.