Christmas has been my favorite time of year for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl, and even when I was a teenager, I'm pretty sure it had more to do with the break from school and gifts under the tree. As I've matured, though, it's become more about the overall feelings of love and joy that surround the season. Growing up, my Mom was all about Christmas, decorating the tree (an artificial one after the live one that I understand we had my first Christmas (I was all of 2 months old) killed her vacuum cleaner as she tried to get the needles up), getting out her assortment of Santas, angels, candles, and sundry other decorations that festooned any available flat surface in our house. Our tree was always beautiful, in that it held a lifetime of memories of travel, family members gone, and an assortment of favorite things that changed from year to year. I still have an ornament in my collection that was on my late uncle's first Christmas tree in 1934. There are a few others from Mom's childhood as well, and many that were inherited when my grandmother passed.
One year, oh, about 2 or 3 years before she died, she was hospitalized at Thanksgiving. I don't remember the specifics, but it was something related to her diabetes. The day after Thanksgivng, or maybe Saturday after, my oldest 2 nephews & I were sent on a mission to replace her turning Christmas tree stand. She loved that little stand, and after about 10 years, it had finally given out, and she was DETERMINED that she would have a turning tree again, so she sent us to the only store she knew that had them. We paid a small fortune (something like $200) for that stand, but it made her happy to know that when she got home, the lights would be up on the house and the tree would be turning in the front window. When I took my nephews home, the oldest said "DAD!, she spent $200 on that tree stand! $200!" He asked me if I was crazy, and I just looked at him and asked him if HE wanted to be the one to go to the hospital and tell Mom that she couldn't have her turning tree stand. Yeah, he got real quiet then.
The first year Mom was gone, I was still living in her house, and I totally Christmased it out. Her house lights were up, the bushes were lit. All of her knickknacks were out, her tree was in the front window, turning merrily, covered with lights that appeared to twinkle as it turned, and full of ornaments. In the family room, I had MY tree. A real, formerly live tree, also covered in lights and ornaments. It didn't turn merrily, and actually, I think sat a wee bit lopsided in its stand, but it sure smelled good and made the family room quite festive. I wrapped every picture on the walls in wrapping paper to look like gifts, and lit my assortment of Christmas candles: Kandy Kisses (peppermint vanilla), Log Cabin (woodsy), clove, Home Sweet Home (cinnamon & I have no idea what else, just that it smells like Christmas cooking), Woodland trails (also woodsy). Yep, my house smelled like Christmas baking, candy canes, a fire in the fireplace, and a fresh cut tree, and it was FABULOUS! Over the years, I've pared down the ornament collection, because, well, there were entirely too many… I personally owned, at the time of her death the over 50 that I received annually growing up (from Mom, my grandmother, and a cousin), plus I continued to get one from her and one from my grandmother each year until their deaths, so that adds another 20, roughly, plus years of ornament exchanges, and the ones that I'd received as gifts from various other people and ones that I'd bought over the years as an adult, I probably had easily 200. Add in the ones my brother got growing up, that adds another 50 something, and then adding my grandmother's to Mom's, I would bet I had easily nearly a thousand ornaments , hence my ability to completely decorate 2 trees that were 6-7 feet tall, and still have ornaments left over!
This year, again, I'm not in my own place, my tree and ornaments are buried in my storage unit, and so I my decorations are limited to my little reindeer herd on the front porch. That's ok, I'm hoping to be able to get out to west TX and spend Christmas weekend with my bestie, and enjoy her tree, and the magic of Christmas with our little almost 5 year old terror darling. Back in 2006 when he was born, we told his big brother who was then 16, that we were happy to be having Santa back. Said 16 year old has been humoring his mothers since he was probably 11 or 12. I hope that we can keep the magic alive for the little one longer than we did for his brother. I have no idea why the big one gave up the magic so early, but he did. He will have his own little one by next Christmas, so perhaps his brother's magic will last longer with a nephew nearer his age. It's going to be another one of those non-traditional years for me, and it's ok. I'll still get to see my family, both blood & chosen.