Andy and I have been needing a little Christmas lately, which means there are halls (or at least a living room) to be decked and movies to be watched.
So today we did it. After a month plus of putting it off, we went to storage. We did not find the sweaters and other winter clothes I actually need to stay warm for the next few months, but we did find some books and knick-knacks Andy wanted for his room, and more Christmas stuff than I remembered keeping last spring.
We left storage with 10 boxes plus a few stray items. Andy, a Dr. Who fan, declared my Corolla was a Tardis (the Dr.’s time machine that looks like a Police Call Box from the outside, but is endlessly spacious, on the inside) when I had it all packed, with room to spare in the trunk, but not for his legs in the front seat.
The next stop on the itinerary was the store for some groceries, new earbuds and a Christmas tree. Getting the Christmas tree was an “event” of the holidays, in our former lives, meriting a double page spread in the scrapbook. When Andy touted the “efficiency” of getting a tree from the grocery store after leaving storage, I did not know if I should be proud, or sad, so I was a little of both, believe it or not.
Andy took it even further, by suggesting we buy an artificial tree, as we walked in. I did not know what to think of this. The kids had artificial trees in their rooms for years, but with the exception of last year, when we used Andy’s 6′ tree with lights, and nothing else as our main tree, we had real trees.
Ours were big and beautiful trees that involved a process that became a rite of Christmas, for our family. Sometimes a week could pass between picking it out at a tree lot, and the final step of placing the skirt beneath it. Getting the ornaments and house decorations from the storage shed or the attic above the garage was a planned family activity, the first weekend in December. I wound strings of lights around the branches, from trunk to edge, to trunk again for days. Then I started on ornaments. The kids would help a bit each year, or most years, but I did most of it at night, after they were in bed, because that was the way it started when they were little and late night was the only time I had to decorate a tree.
The first time was our first Christmas in our first house. Zoe was going to be turning five in January, and Andy turned one that fall, so I was determined to make it magical, and my plan started with a big, beautiful tree.
I had left my outside job in August to do home daycare, so I could be home with our kids and actually generate income, rather spend my earnings on day care. By Thanksgiving, I had 7 kids coming and going each day, the first set arriving at 5:30 in the morning, the last set leaving at 6:00 p.m. Sitting on the floor with a glass of wine, wrapping the glowing strings of multi-colored bulbs around and around to the soft beat of Christmas music was a nice way to launch the Christmas season, at the time. So nice that I left nary a sprig was unilluminated, and ran out of lights twice before I finally wound a cord around the needle-bare stick at the top. I used a total of 21 strings of 100 count lights on our eight foot Christmas tree that year, and everyone who saw it reveled at its splendor. It was radiant.
It was also hot, with all those lights, so by Christmas Day, the tree was so dried out that we only dared let it shine for 10 minutes at a time, while both sides of the family filled our home for dinner.
From then on, all of our trees were like that…glowing spectacles of thousands of miniature lights and hundreds of memories hung by hooks. It was what we did, or I did, at least.
So, I was surprised today, when Andy suggested we buy an artificial tree, and I agreed. And I was surprised when I guessed that five sets of 50-count LED lights would be enough irradiation for the seven foot cone-o-wires and plastic shred, and it turned out that four strings were enough.
I like our tree, just as it is, because today, Andy and I found the Christmas we were needing came in making it happen together, and the joy of the season doesn’t get any better than that.