If there is a tradition I relish from childhood, it is all encompassing of the Christmas tree. Our family of four would pile in the old VW bug and head to the only tree lot on Sunset Avenue in my town of Rocky Mount. I remember hot cocoa and darting amongst the trees as the sky darkened and being filled with joy and anticipation. This getting the tree was an indication that Christmas was surely near.
My own family has done this nearly each year too, fourteen now, though somehow the real doesn't quite measure up to the remembered. The real includes little and big people arguing, complaining about being cold, and wondering when we will have lunch. Yesterday, we traveled about town, two extra friends, and finally chose our family tree at Food Lion. It was a far cry from those nights at the tree lot though is pretty enough and for $30.37 with tax, perfect for the family who will be leaving for the holidays.
Will I look back and remember the kind face who loaded the tree on the car and used copious amounts of twine? Will I smile thinking of my ten year old son, happy to be perched on the roof, helping with the securing of our slight family tree? Will I think back and add that day to another one of our far from perfect, but so us, family traditions?
The tree was unloaded without too much fussing and after the lights were placed, my daughter and I began the ornament process. The boys were not terribly, the first year of that, and so, we unearthed the tangible memories of both our childhoods and properly oohed and aaahed. She played the part perfectly, tickled over my own paper stocking in disrepair, weathered from thirty years plus of being hung on trees. She asked questions about nearly each item and called out to her brothers and father each time we hung one of their memories.
My mother and I played this same game for so many years and for once, the here and now measured up to the memories that had been molded by minds careful to choose joy. My dad and brother wrestled the gigantic trees into the house year after year, and yet, I remember no yelling or complaining, often commonplace at my own house in which I reign as the grown up. Nope, I can only remember smiles all around followed by an afternoon of careful ornament placing of lovely trinkets that never seemed to get broken, where our fancy ones have dwindled to just a few. This year, we decided to provide them amnesty from Amos' eager hands and so, they remain nestled in tissue paper for another year.
I am thankful for our Christmas tree, not too big and just thirty dollars, because it signifies that life goes on and I hope years from now that my children will smile as they remember, choosing the fond over the hardship. May they overlook the imperfect and remember the messy package of love.