Aside from this precious face and his love of elf on the shelves, Christmas trees, decorations, and all things holiday-ish, my sister and husband have had been discussing that Christmas can really be a melancholy mix of memories that prove to be a bummer for an adult. It seems that when Thanksgiving hits so do a barrage of emotions that can lead to feeling sad. Sad for those we love that are no longer with us, weepy during the prayer at the Thanksgiving dinner. Crying while driving in the car because all that Christmas music brings up childhood memories of days and moments and precious time that is passing so quickly. The kids are growing up so fast and wasn't I just a kid myself? When did I grow up?
As the COO (chief operating officer) of this household, all the decorating and making merriment falls to me. The cooking, cleaning, organizing, shopping, wrapping, buying, hiding, planning.....it's ALL ME! Some of this is really fun and some of this is just plain exhausting. I had a splendid childhood with the coolest mom in the world that made everything extra special. Even a simple snack after I got off the school bus was made with love. I had a shining example of how to be a top notch mother.
I am not trying to be perfect here at all. (example: I let Lauren decorate the tree and I only moved a couple of ornaments that were dangling too low to the floor) When I do things with love it comes easy. When I over plan or think too much about things, that's when it gets complicated. I have really awesome kids who are thankful for little things. They don't need electronic gadgets or super expensive toys. (I've been reminded by my girlfriends who have older children that I need to relish these days because they are short lived!) These years of believing in an elf or Santa or the plate of cookies and sugar for the reindeer that they really eat (ha!) are brief. I want to enjoy them.
I was reminded of this yesterday when I hauled three little trees out of the crawl space. The year Lauren was born we didn't have a big tree, but scaled down to a table top version with all her new pink ornaments. I sat in a chair next to this tree and nursed and pumped and watched Ellen every day at 3:00 p.m. My mom was with me and she would make us tea. I was a new mom and learning how to navigate this new life I was living with a baby. Having my own mom by my side made this whole process priceless.
I had kind of forgotten about these trees. I haven't gotten them out in years past. Heck, if we have one big tree to decorate I don't need more trees and more ornaments and really, more work. But I guess I had a moment of sanity or clarity, I'm not sure which, but I pulled these trees out. I put them at the top of the staircase and used the special collection of crystal ornaments that my Grandmother gave me since I was a child.
Evan was delighted!
Aside from spilling water on the floor from his sister's Hello Kitty water bottle, no ornaments were harmed.
He was a posing fool. He never poses or smiles for the camera. I took advantage.
Christmas Love Dog.
As I unwrapped each ornament I was flooded with all the memories of Christmases past. This tea kettle was a favorite. Each year my sister and I would receive a new hand blown (in most cases) ornament. Back in the day our mall would have a special set up where a man would be selling these. Each year it got harder and harder for my Grandmother to find these kind so she switched to some crystal ones or any other kind that looked like these. I'm not sure when she stopped giving them to us. We got older, went off to college and we probably didn't care as much about them. I'd like to think my sister and I were good kids who appreciated the little things too. But those teen hormones can do a number on any good kid!
It was as if my Grandmother knew that I would have a boy and a girl to pass these ornaments onto. The airplane will be for Evan. (Unless Lauren becomes a pilot or something!)
A car for Evan.
Lauren's Farmor (that means father's mother in Swedish) gave this high heeled shoe to her a few years ago. Her handwriting on the bottom was a tug on the heart. She unexpectedly left us in January. This holiday season all these emotions surrounding her memory are fresh. A cut that is only beginning to heal.
A butterfly for Lauren. We have a thing for butterflies. How did Grandma know?
This one reminds me of my Grandma Kushman who died when I was in middle school. She had breast cancer but lived a long and wonderful life despite that. A whole world of memories swirling around just because I unwrapped this one I can still smell her house, her coty face powder and I have inherited her wicked good cleaning abilities. For that I am thankful!
This one was broken when I unwrapped it. I'm sure I didn't have the heart to toss it just because one wing was broken. Don't hate me, but the first thing that popped into my head when I saw this was the classic Mr. Mister song lyric "take these broken wings and learn to fly again." Yet another example of how fast time is moving.
But it's a ridiculous Christmas metaphor staring me right in the face! Life is like that.
My wishing love birds again....
And a little monkey shine named Evan.
Lauren got home from school and checked out the trees. I don't know any other six year old who appreciates an ornament more than her! Actually my sister's son Liam is good about this too. Through our special traditions they feel the love and will carry it with them when they decorate their own trees someday.
So I'm kind of all over the place here in this post. But at the end of the day holiday traditions, albeit exhausting, are what make these moments special. From generation to generation we hand down our ornaments, our egg nog drinking, our decorating the tree while watching the Macy's parade, our favorite Christmas carols, our advent calendars, our brined turkey, our hot chocolate in snowman mugs.....our love. I can feel it. Can you?