At some point this weekend, we’ll haul the Christmas boxes from the basement and begin the holiday transformation of our home. I know many spent Thanksgiving weekend shedding fall colors, but I like to wait until the calendar hits December. Nothing says “home for the holidays” to the college boys like walking in the door to a 7-foot tree dominating your living room.
And so we’ll unpack our pre-lit Home Depot Douglas Fir, the artificial tree we’ve owned since December 2015. That was the year our last “real” tree fell out of its stand exactly one week before Christmas, bringing with it all the lights, ornaments and a tree-top angel.
The angel, an Irish one, survived, bent but not broken. Below it, a Walmart nativity set — the “temporary” one we bought 27 Christmases ago, the first year we were married — withstood the weight of the tree. The ornaments? We lost a few.
And that was it for real trees. The next day, we were at Gravois Bluffs, along with thousands of our closest friends, searching for a parking spot and a bargain among the pre-lit tree offerings. Ever buy a tree the week before Christmas? It was no bargain.
“If we get five Christmases out of this, it will pay for itself!” Tom said. Husbands are great with retail rationalization when you need it most. At that point, I didn’t care how much it cost. I just wanted a tree.
So this will be our fourth Christmas with the Home Depot tree. I miss the smell of pine, but can’t say I miss the constant joy of sweeping up needles. But it doesn’t matter what kind of tree graces our home each holiday; what matters is what it holds.
And so this tree that we’ll put up this weekend will hold a lifetime of Christmases in ornaments that survived to tell the story of our life: Our First Christmas Together; Mother-To-Be; Baby’s First Christmas; vacation ornaments from the Outer Banks to Yellowstone. Football players and Star Wars figures, college logos and preschool creations made out of glitter and Popsicle sticks.
We started each boy with the Hallmark set that stopped with “Fifth Christmas.” Then each year after, we bought them a new one with the notion that once they got their own place, they’d have their own set to start with. Each Christmas, these ornaments are hung with the realization there will come a day when they’ll hang on another tree, in another home, in another time.
That day looms, but not this one. Tomorrow, I’ll have at least one more tree with an Irish angel and Walmart Baby Jesus, who lies below hundreds of points of light among ornaments on borrowed time. And it will be perfect.