December 18, 2008

Love Opens Up

I had always prided myself on our Christmas trees. Everything from selecting just the right noble fir to placing each light and ornament was done with great care and deliberation. I'd view the tree from multiple angles, adjusting decorations until it looked balanced and full from any spot in the room. Once finished, it sat like a show piece in the front room, its perfection untouched until it finally came time to dismantle it. (Save that year I came home from work to find the tree had toppled over. We don't talk about that year.)

It was a soothing, enjoyable process, done with Christmas music playing and peppermint lattes on the coffee table. And sitting by my sparkly tree in the evenings was one of my favorite parts of Christmas. They were rituals I didn't want to lose when kids entered the picture. In the years before becoming parents, T and I would talk about how to protect our precious trees from future tiny hands. Would we put the tree inside a playpen like my parents had done? Not decorate the bottom branches until the kids were old enough to leave it alone? Forbid anyone from touching it on pain of death? We searched for ways to maintain what we thought was its perfect beauty.

On the couch tonight, writing this, I can peek over the top of my laptop at this year's tree. And, friends, our tree is a hot mess. Or, rather, the bottom third is. It morphs each day into a new combination of color and light. Garland loops haphazardly, five colored balls cluster on a single branch. In one section just shy of the ground, a large homemade angel sits upside down and backward. All of the train ornaments are happily grouped front and center. It is an explosion of asymmetrical chaotic madness, the result of a three-year old's constant meddling. And it turns out I don't care one bit.

Really for the first time this year, Puppy is old enough to not just observe our holiday traditions but participate in them. He jumped around with joy as he "helped" T decide where to hang the outdoor lights. He announces when we should have hot cocoa breaks and where each person should sit. He could barely contain himself the day we decorated the tree, dashing to the table to pull yet another ornament out of the box, squealing, "Oh, Mama, look at this one!" every time. And he has turned the tree into his personal interactive wonderland. Animal ornaments take rides on train ornaments, visiting the land of candy cane lights. Nutcrackers become friends with angels and move closer together on their branches.

I enjoyed my perfect Christmas trees in the past, but it turns out the what I love even more is sharing that joy with my son. Our tree may not be showroom pretty right now, but it is alive with the excitement of a little boy. All because love doesn't hold traditions tight to itself, but opens them up to be reimagined through the eyes of another.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone.

7 comments:

Jennifer said...

Funny how priorities change when little people come into our lives, isn't it?
I loved your story and can completely picture your tree that is the new idea of perfect.
Happy Love Thursday.
And Happy Christmas!

kath said...

He showed you didn't he? What a wonderful Love Thursday story.

Joy to you and your family.

luna said...

this is a lovely love story. it sounds just perfect.

Jamie said...

This is sooo funny...I was just having these thoughts myself yesterday. My nephew helped us decorate a small tree and I caught myself saying "well, maybe that one should go here, or "no, that ones too close to the other one" until finally I just decided to let him do what made him happy. :) (he's two!) This whole experience got me thinking about my desire for my Chistmas tree to be "just perfect" each year. :) I suppose I should start letting go of that idea.....
Thanks so much for sharing this! It was a beautiful post! :)

choosydad said...

Somebody needs to invent a realistic looking fake tree with all of the ornaments permanently attached and branches that fold up for easy setup/removal.

Or I suppose you could use some low voltage lights with faulty wiring to keep pets and kids at bay! (Did I just say that...? Yikes.)

Nice blog design, BTW. I dig it. Very "huxleyish".

Angela Klocke said...

Priorities do change, indeed. Enjoyed this!

Lori said...

I can't wait to have a helper to decorate the tree! Even if that means only the bottom third gets decorated. Right now I see it more as a chore. So much that there have been a number of years where we didn't even bother getting a tree. Eek! So if Puppy needs another project, send him our way.

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