There was a time, when my children were very small, when Christmas was my domain. It was I who decided what type of tree we would have, where it would be, how it would be decorated, and what gifts would be bestowed upon whom.
I didn’t intend to be domineering. I was emulating the Christmases I had known as a child – Christmases that were my mother’s domain, as she compensated for the lacks in her own childhood Christmases.
Families often form chains, with each generation forging a link in the chain, carrying on traditions, or else changing them.
Our link has gradually shifted from that traditional family Christmas, with me at the apex, like the star at the top of the tree. Over time, as we moved more into a life of partnering with our children rather than the strictly authoritative parents we’d been, Christmas has become more and more everybody’s holiday.
Today’s Share is from two Christmases ago. We had a live tree, because the children wanted one, and I allowed them to have a part in decorating it. We cut strips of wrapping paper and made chains, everyone contributing when and how they liked. When the lights were bunched on one side, I didn’t untangle them. When ornaments were shifted, removed to be played with, dropped, and put back on the tree again, I bit back my protests and reminded the children that certain ornaments were too delicate to play with, or had deep sentimental value – and they played merrily with the others.
I remembered being a little girl, not allowed to touch the tree or the ornaments – and every year, we had a more lovely, gloriously bedecked tree. I longed to stroke those needles, bury my nose in them, and breathe that green life in, the way I had before it was cut down, dragged home, and dressed in its borrowed finery.
My fingers almost itched to touch the decorations – all my life, I have been deeply texture-oriented, and those surfaces – smooth, rough, swirling, felted – seemed to be begging to be caressed.
I enjoyed my childrens’ explorations of the tree, and it filled the little girl inside me with joy. I shared with them the way I had lain under the tree, as a girl, and stared up into its branches, feeling that I was at the heart of some magical and fleeting world…
And I got to see this video Annalise made of her solitary communion with her own Christmas spirit…
Last year, we had three feral kittens adjusting to life as family companions, and a tree seemed like a tremendous risk. Instead, we nailed some branches to the wall in a tree shape, and hung decorations upon them. A tray table beneath was draped in our tree skirt. We didn’t need a lot of room for gifts, since the children decided in early December that what they both most wanted was their own Kindle Fire.
They aren’t big fans of suspense, and past their Santa days. There was no reason to keep secrets just so we could wrap them and make a fuss over the presentation for our own sake.
When Christmas came, they’d had their Kindles for about two weeks, and had that time to use them as they wished. They each had a gift from their grandparents to open, and one from us, and their stockings – and we were all delighted by a mellow day that wasn’t filled with the unwrapping, mess, and stress of previous Christmas mornings, when my idea of how things ought to be often got in the way of everyone’s enjoyment.
This year, both kids wanted a new Nintendo 3DS.
Jeremiah found a great deal at an online site, on Black Friday, and he handled the ordering himself. They had them just in time to take on our trip to share a bit of Hanukkah with their best friends a state away.
Each will receive one more gift from us, and they know what it is. They’ve both made requests for what they would like in their stockings.
Annalise was the only one who cared to have a tree this year. She chose a live tabletop tree and named it Pinerific. She bought a star, a garland she calls a ribbon, and a string of lights, and decorated it herself, choosing freely from our ornament collection. I’ve washed the skirt, and I will clean the coffee table tomorrow, so that she can use it.
It doesn’t look much like the Christmases I grew up with, or even the ones I thought we’d have when my kids were still abstract future fantasies, rather than real live people with their own preferences.
It looks, feels, and sounds like us, and it delights us in a simpler, sweeter, and more peaceful way than an orchestrated event would.
And that puts a song of joy in my heart that I want to share with all of you, tonight.
Whatever and whenever you celebrate, may your living sparkle and shine!
I’d love it if you’d share a little bit about your holiday traditions. What do they look, smell, sound, taste, and feel like? What makes them magical, for you and your beloveds?
Saturdays are for sharing!
- 5 DiY Christmas Decorations for Under $5 Each (savings.com)
- DIY Christmas ornaments: 4 reasons to make your own along with 14 free tutorials and printables (savings.com)
- Christmas Crafts – 3 Edible Ornaments For Kids To Make (roomtogrow.co.uk)