When I’m barreling ahead at full steam, life has a way of forcing me to put on the brakes and take a moment to be still and breathe. Courtesy of the shorter Thanksgiving-to-Christmas season, our lives and weekends have been busy, busy, busy. Christmas shopping, parties galore (a fantastic problem to have, no complaints here), traditions to be marked, go and go and go.
And then a child gets sick.
Not sick-sick. But sick enough that the parties and holiday treats and replaced with marathon movies and ice cream.
Suddenly, life because much less hectic and there is time to sit. To savor the moments. And reflect. Slow can be a wonderful thing.
This is the first year that our Christmas tree has been slowly put up over the course of a week. A few strands of lights and an ornament between the coming and going of ballet and grocery shopping and the later and later bedtimes. As I type, our tree is still star-less. To me, it is the final crowning that marks a finished project. But instead of feeling uneasy that this task isn’t officially completed, I’m content with its undone-ness. I don’t want to rush through this season like a laundry list of memories to be made.
Josh and I got our first “real” tree – versus the small, Charlie Brown-esque, pre-lit plastic tree that fit in our equally shabby newlywed apartments – four years ago. We found the tree stand at a garage sale the previous summer for $2. Looking back, it was far overpriced and actually cost Josh a priceless amount of sweat, scratched knuckles and grown-up words. We affectionately named the douglas fir “Doug” and decorated it with generic bulbs of bright colors and glitter and a certain 6-month-old’s Baby’s First Christmas ornament. It was exactly what I imagined my first grown up tree would be.
I had no way of knowing exactly how much would change in five Christmases – how our family would change, how much I would change. While decorating this year’s evergreen (although it’s quickly becoming less and less green despite our frequent watering), I noticed how few of those 2009 Target-bought bulbs remain and how the years are marked by the variety of unique ornaments gifted to us by those we’ve been fortunate enough to cross paths.
My favorite part of decorating the tree is pulling out each ornament and remembering who gave it and celebrating the friendship. Like my developing laugh lines and callousing hands, every decoration tells a story.
I’m adding these made-with-love ornaments to our tree. A golden star for each of us. I think this best reflects the Liz of 2013.
No sooner had I sealed this thought than I noticed Blair run over and begin handling one of the original bulbs. In a swift motion, the blue glass bulb smashed into hundreds of shards beneath the tree. It dawned on me that within a few years, only one or two of these original bulbs will remain on our tree and they, too, will become unique and remind us of what life was like in 2009.