We went to the lot to pick out our Christmas tree yesterday on a gorgeous and only slightly chilly day. It is funny how I always know the tree right away, no matter how many trees are there. We look at other trees, but unfailingly come back to the one.
It was a huge challenge with Dan’s arm still in a sling post surgery, but we managed to get the tree off of the car, into the house, set up, and all of the decorations down from the garage with only minor profanity. Our home is never more beautiful than at Christmas, and we look forward to the house being full of lights, music, and the special decorations we have collected over the years. Full of the spirit of Christmas. This will be our fourteenth Christmas in this house, years filled with great joys, deep sorrows, and everything in between. I wouldn’t change a moment of it.
I thought I was ready for all of this, but once the tree was up and left to relax before we began decorating and Dan started up his special Christmas playlist on the iPod, the tears came. In that instant, I missed my mother so much that it felt like my heart would snap apart. I have loved Christmas from my earliest memories- all because of the child-like joy and enthusiasm that Mom brought to the holiday. It never mattered that money was more than scarce, she somehow used every ounce of her considerable creativity and resourcefulness to make magic happen. Every single time. She was the most thoughtful of gift-givers, the most generous with her Christmas spirit. You couldn’t be around her and not smile, not take on some of her enthusiasm.
As I took each ornament out and placed them on the tree, a flood of memories washed over me. I felt such gratitude for the loving childhood I had. It was not easy- there were many tough times when there was not much to eat and no money for heat- but there was always love, the most important ingredient to a happy life.
There will always be some sadness at Christmastime as the echoes of grief bubble back to the surface, but there will always be great joy, too. As we decorate today and bring the holiday to life in our home, I will feel my mother with us, hear her infectious giggle and her voice singing the carols she loved so much in my heart. Love never ever dies, and I will celebrate that knowledge with all my heart this Christmas- and every single one that I am blessed to have.