Every year, at the end of November, I make the trek down to our storage room to bring up our Christmas tree and decorations. Not only is our annual tradition a time to start thinking about the upcoming holiday season, but the slow accumulation of presents under the tree builds the excitement in our house as we anticipate Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve.
A particularly amazing thing about this tradition is how the tree, and more importantly the decorations and the lights help us to get into the Christmas spirit. Once the tree is dressed, we turn out all the lights and sit in the dark staring in wonder like little kids, inspecting favorite ornaments like long-lost friends.
The dressing of the tree takes about two hours because unwrapping each carefully protected ball and individual ornament takes time. Then, finding just the right place on the tree: first the lights and beads, then a wreath, then a base of balls before finishing it off with the many treasured pieces we have collected over 19 years of marriage and 20 years of friendship. It feels like creating a work of art. Our ornament collection is full of fond memories and is more like a journey through time, with ornaments that speak to events we’ve experienced and places we’ve been.
Maybe it’s because we are parents now, but each special ornament takes on an even more important meaning as our family has grown. Each one brought a separate history along with it, and my wife and I paused as we placed them, joking, laughing and savoring the fond memories each one brought back.
In a way, our tree decorations represent a bit of history of our family, a reflection of who we were and are now. I could take each one off the tree and tell a story about it, where it came from, what we were doing then, where we lived, and at what age.
When the season is all over, sometime after the New Year is rung in, there is a touch of melancholy in packing the pieces back in their beds for another year. I guess my hope is that when Dylan grows up, we are able to pass on our family collection to him, so he can add to it and continue the tradition with his own family after we are gone.