The day after our quiet Thanksgiving holiday, we headed to the tree lot at the Birmingham Zoo to select our Christmas tree. As inevitably happens, I went right to the tree that I knew was the one; I make Dan laugh, telling him I’m like that with husbands, dogs, and Christmas trees. It’s my super power, right up there next to my superhuman ability to make hundreds of cookies at Christmastime and never take a bite.
We need Christmas and all it brings to life more than ever after these long stressful months of the pandemic. The magic of the bright lights and the ‘Christmas Spirit’ that my mom talked about with heretical fervor…the intense memories brought vividly to the surface at the first glimpse of familiar decorations or the sounds of holiday music.
I came by my awe of Christmas honestly; my mother loved Christmas more than any person I’ve ever known, making every holiday truly magical. She didn’t have two nickels to rub together while I was growing up, but that didn’t stop her. She planned all year, finding the perfect gift for each person through lay-away, garage sales, or bartering and trading her own treasures, hiding them away in the old house on Westwood Lane. She made me believe in Santa far longer than I should have, sharing her infectious Christmas Spirit with everyone she met. I can still hear her say-about a week into December, “Neese, I’m filled with the Christmas Spirit!” Then came decorating and singing carols at our very out of tune piano. Some of my happiest memories.
I have done my best to carry on that same spirit throughout my life, and this year will be no different, COVID-19 be damned. I limped into Thanksgiving break feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted, needing this break to recharge, and it’s been a fun and very productive week for the most part. I was excited to cap off the vacation by decking our halls after giving the tree the requisite time to relax some before we strung the lights. Today was the day- Decorating Day.
It makes me so happy that Dan loves Decorating Day as much as I do. He is the master of all things lighting, but placing the ornaments on the tree is my chosen job. I appreciate that he gives me space as I do this task, as he understands the effect that the special box of ornaments has on me. Each one is filled with memories of my life since childhood, some joyous, some sad, all tugging at my heartstrings. Good tears in the end.
This year’s Decorating Day was medicinal. Aside from the welcome gift of memories, it reminded me that the Christmas Spirit and all it means goes on- even in a global pandemic. The holidays won’t make the virus go away or heal the hearts of those who have lost loved ones from it, but for at least a little while it can give us a welcome reprieve from all of the worry and sadness that have engulfed us since last March. I am so grateful that we’ve made it to this holiday season, and I hope that very special spirit will touch hearts and make us all stop and remember the magic of childhood once again.