Early on in our marriage, before we had kids, I used to spend tons of time decorating and beautifying our house in preparation for the Christmas season. I made wreaths, strung popcorn and cranberries, and one year fashioned an entire tree’s worth of pine cone ornaments for our humble Home Depot pine, as we had very few store-bought ornaments of our own. Jay used to tease me about bringing dead things into the house to make it look more alive!
Now that we have three children, my time allotment for such activities has grown smaller but the time we do spend preparing for this season seems sweeter and even more meaningful. We now have the privilege of seeing Christmas through the eyes of an almost 4 and 2 year old. Abigail knows that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday and I can remember last year when she was very concerned to hear that when He came to earth He was not given a “comfy bed” to sleep in. Jonathan is just now learning about the Baby Jesus and spends lots of time begging to hold the little Jesus toy in our fabric “creche”.
This year the acquisition of a tree was especially important to both Abigail and Jonathan. Jay and I, after 7 years of bringing home a freshly cut tree, made the very difficult decision to go “artificial”. I say difficult because the romantic in me loves the smell and feel of the real tree, yet the practical side says the pine needles are a pain to keep up with.
Anyway, I figured the time to purchase a “fake” tree was after Christmas, for the sake of getting a better deal, etc. That’s how I usually like to shop! But Jay really wanted to get one for this year, so like the incredibly submissive wife that I am (excuse me, I am dodging lightening) I went into overdrive calling Lowes, Target, Sams, etc to check prices.
And I learned that at least here in Dallas, one does not necessarily do better to wait on a tree. For by December 9th, most places were either completely out of stock or close to it. We went looking anyway, but our trip was especially disappointing to Abigail, as we came home empty handed. “Mommy, we really need to get a Christmas tree! Didn’t you like any of the ones we saw?” Sadly, no, I hadn’t, even if I’d been willing to pay $200 for one of them.
Happily though, after several more days of calling around and searching, the kids and I picked up the last tree in any Garden Ridge in the metroplex, for 30% off the original price. They were the only place having any sales. BTW, I do recommend them; their trees are much better looking than any I saw at other places and their customer service was delightful.
We brought home our “Carolina Spruce” and I figured the kids would be thrilled. However, Abigail was once more devastated as she discovered a mound of dismembered tree boughs in our garage the next day.
“Mommy, why did you break our tree?” she asked next morning in tears. Poor traumatized little girl! She did not understand that her mommy, perhaps wistful about the little decorating projects she used to undertake during this festive season, had stayed up till 1am the night before, sitting on the cold garage floor, wiring together parts of real pine boughs picked up for free at Home Depot. (Yes, free tip: Home Depot cuts branches and offers them to customers for the taking.) I put together about 25 feet of pine garland to decorate our stairs. BTW, I have wrapped the banister with Saran Wrap to protect the wood, but have not yet hung the garland.
Anyway, last night, with a wee bit of help from Grandy Horne, we set up our tree and strung the lights. This morning both the older kids were in awe as I opened our box of ornaments (yes, just one box; we still don’t have very many!). They loved seeing all the different colors and shapes and I am quite delighted to say that they each really helped decorate the tree. Honestly, I moved hardly any ornaments after their “work”; even little Jonathan hung ornaments on the lowest branches with precision far beyond his almost two years. It was such fun to me to get to share this experience with them, hopefully just the first of many.
I look forward, Lord willing, to this and many more Christmases with Jay and our children, and I am excited about establishing little family traditions together that our kids will grow to love and anticipate each year. May we all keep Christ in our hearts as we prepare to celebrate His birth.