The Christmas tree has been assembled in the living room, standing at attention waiting to be adorned.
I stared at it last night, willing myself to get off the couch and pull the Christmas ornaments out of their boxes. But I was lazy and tired and the tree didn’t look half bad lurking there by the aquarium, draped only with lights.
Now that my children are grown, Christmas decorating is just not the same. I’ve been an empty-nester for almost 10 years, so this is not a news flash for me. But every year, as the holidays draw near, I’m reminded of the lovely days when my children were young and I had four sets of hands to help decorate the tree.
Last night was no exception. As I lay there on the couch, reminiscing about Christmases past, I remembered a question a friend asked me the other day: What is your favorite Christmas memory?
I thought long and hard, but it wasn’t easy to come up with an answer. It’s not just cut and dried. By now, I’ve gone through several different life stages, each with its own unique memories. So choosing just one favorite is difficult.
My childhood was very stable and consistent. As I look back, I realize no one Christmas memory stands out for me. They all run together in a lovely stream of traditions and normalcy.
Many of my early childhood memories are rooted in photographs, so I’m not sure if I’m recalling events or the photos that captured the events. For instance, there’s a photo of me, age 3 or 4, lying on the floor under the Christmas tree in my pajamas staring adoringly at the Nativity scene.
I don’t recall that particular moment, but I do remember the Nativity. Each little statue was separate and free standing, so I could move them around into different positions. I loved the angel best. I placed her inside the creche under the “star,” illuminated by a fat Christmas light bulb stuck in a hole in the back.
Fast forward to the next phase of my life: Motherhood. For the first few years of my first marriage, our Christmases were spent with our extended families. But in 1989, we moved to a ranch in East Texas and began our own family traditions. On Christmas Eve, we’d have a candlelit dinner of our favorite party foods. The kids would open one present each and set out cookies and milk for Santa. Of course, when they became teenagers, they ate the cookies and drank the milk themselves, but the tradition remained.
As I said before, things changed when the kids grew up and, especially, after their father and I divorced. Our holiday traditions were lost. They started their own families and their own traditions, most of which did not involve me. Christmases were just no fun.
However, God is faithful. As promised, he has a way of restoring all things lost.
Several years after my divorce, I fell in love with a wonderful man who asked me to marry him. I said yes, and 10 days before Christmas, we said our vows before a Bell County justice of the peace — who ironically looked a lot like Santa Claus.
My husband, one of the most sensitive and loving men I have ever known, absolutely loves all things Christmas. So naturally the holidays have taken on a whole new life for me. With his help, they’ve become fun again.
You see, he’s the one who put up the Christmas tree last night. He did it while I was still at work and texted me a photo of it. I was thrilled, even if it meant we’d have to decorate sometime in the near future. We didn’t get around to it last night, but it’s inevitable. It will happen.
We’ll do it together.