I have to admit, I’ve had a tough time getting into the Christmas spirit this year.
Perhaps it’s because my wife and I lost our cat to illness in September, and she wasn’t around to watch us put up the Christmas decorations, especially the tree.
Or maybe it’s because we’ve had some unexpected expenses and the money is a bit tight for the holidays.
Then again, it may be because the weather has felt more like late spring than early December, with temperatures hovering around 80 degrees earlier this week.
Let’s face it, when you break a sweat hauling the Christmas tree box in from the garage, even after you’ve stripped down to a T-shirt, it doesn’t exactly invoke visions of sleigh rides and snowmen.
Still, we’re playing our holiday CDs on the stereo, we’ve put the Christmas wreath on our front door and my wife is busily adorning our living and dining rooms with festive decor.
Of course, the center of attention is the Christmas tree, as in most homes at the holidays.
Our tree is prelighted, which is a huge time-saver. Whoever came up with the idea to permanently attach strings of lights to a segmented artificial tree should get the Nobel Prize — right up there with the people who invented hot showers, air-conditioning and microwave ovens.
Once I got the tree out of the box, we had it assembled, in the stand and plugged in within 15 minutes, looking pretty good.
Too bad it couldn’t stay like that; we still had to hang the decorations.
Now, I wouldn’t say my wife is a perfectionist, but she does like things to look nice, and the Christmas tree is no exception.
She spent the better part of two hours placing strings of gold beads around the tree. The various rows had to be evenly spaced, with the proper draping effect. Then, as she got close to the bottom, she considered starting over because the last string of beads was too long for the amount of tree left to be decorated.
I would have just wound the beads around the tree until I got to the backside, then tucked the leftover string under the tree skirt.
But what do I know? I’m a guy.
The next day, while I was at the office, she spent several hours methodically hanging ornaments from the branches. When I came home, the tree was nearly done.
I have to admit. It was beautiful. Nearly every branch was adorned with an ornament of some kind — all reflecting the soft glow of the tree’s tiny white lights.
After coaxing me into placing some more of the smaller ornaments on the tree’s upper branches, she topped it off with some branches of burgundy and gold berries.
As we stood and admired the finished tree, I felt the Christmas spirit slowly swelling up in my heart. Sure, this year might be a little different than some of our previous Christmases, but it’s still a joyous time of year, a time to reflect on all our blessings — and we do have many.
In lighting up a corner of our living room, our tree symbolizes the hope that burns brightly this Christmas season — as it does every year. We just have to slow down, push aside our daily concerns and focus on that hope as Christmas nears.
So, now I’m more in the holiday spirit, a little more appreciative of the little things that make this season so wonderful.
Of course, a little winter-like weather couldn’t hurt.
But even without a cold spell, I’m pretty sure the Christmas spirit will stick with me.
At least until it’s time to take down the tree.