As a child, the Christmas tree symbolized the season for me. I wasn’t usually encouraged to bring nature indoors, so having a real live tree in the middle of our living room was a piece of amazement in itself. That we would as a family go to pick it out, and that my input had value (even though my parents had the final say), made the experience that much more special. I had specific criteria when I looked for the perfect pine. It must be tall–none of this silly Charlie Brown business. It must also exhibit that ideal conical shape as in the romanticized holiday movies and I should be able to smell the resin regardless of how stuffy my nose.
Then there were the decorations themselves. The all had to fit. All of them, from the Popsicle stick nativity I made in Sunday school to the gaudiest ornament my grandma gave us must have a place of honor among the branches. Somehow, my mother found it within herself to permit this. More of God’s grace demonstrated in the season of miracles, I presume. Also, the lights had to be colored, not just red and green but the entire rainbow. And if glitter from the shiniest of the collection rained down and littered the floor at the base of our monument to Christmas, so be it. This was how Christmas was meant to be.
I’m a little simpler these days. Mom and I are still doing the tree together, sometimes with help from my brother and Dad, sometimes not. Everyone is working now, except for me, so it sort of depends on who is around at the time. Our tree this year is a little lopsided and far from unblemished. I think we’re going to try the white lights again, since the soft glow on winter evenings makes the home that much cozier. I’ve been trying to help Mom keep up with vacuuming the needles off the floor, and this year we’ll have to mind that the cat doesn’t end up as the Christmas star at the top.
It’s funny how you change as you grow up. My anticipation of the holiday is muted as compared to my younger years. It’s not that I valued presents so much as a child and see the importance of things differently. I wasn’t really much of a gift-monger even as a kid. I think I just look for a different sort of magic now. As a wee one, the magic was in the color and the sparkle and the dazzling display. Now it’s in the quiet and my family, being home and watching the snow swirl outside. I don’t have a favourite season, but I do love how Mom dresses up the house this time of year and doesn’t mind having people over quite so much. My expectations have changed, and I think perhaps, for the better.