This year has been rough. There are no two ways about it. Our family struggles with the tremendous loss of my adoptive father, father-in-law, grandmother-in-law, dear aunt and two beloved pets. Just writing this is difficult. They are more than mere words on a screen, mere letters arranged in sequence. We loved them, leaned on them, needed them...and they loved us. A large part of us left with them and we endeavor daily to be whole in their absence.
This Christmas Tree belonged to my in-laws. They bought it together years ago. Enormous and always covered in brightly colored lights, ornaments and a train circling its base. Sometimes the train would derail and Papa would gently place it on the tracks and send it on its way, to the delight of his grandchildren.
My mother-in-law was going to give the tree to charity.
I blurted, "No. We will take it!"
I was intimidated by its vastness. Ten feet tall and over six feet in circumference.
What was I thinking?
It sat in the garage longer than I intended.
The day I brought it into the house, I cried for so many reasons.
I also did not know how to put together a million piece tree with no directions, cracked in some places. Daunted but committed, I wanted my mother-in-law to see the tree anew.
Hundreds of trips up and down the ladder...
Three days later it was fluffed. I sprayed the boughs with pine essential oil. My arms abraded, as if by some crazed cat, from reaching into the stiff bristles.
I used floral wire to raise drooping branches.
It was actually soothing- coaxing each branch back to life.
I added 1,200 twinkling lights.
I ordered 200 ornaments from Amazon.
Then I found 200 more at a local store.
Then 300 more.
All red, I decided, to represent the love of those who went before us.
I looked everywhere for a red finial for the tippy top.
I found a large finial ornament online. I merely pulled the cap off and turned it upside-down and voila!
Then I added more ornaments.
New traditions. This is how they begin.
This is now our family Christmas Tree. We have begun to create our own memories around it
I never truly belonged to a family until now and was mystified as to the ways of traditions. Now I understand this is how they are made; Like Christmas Trees with intertwining lights, bits of wire, bright, shiny moments and love. Mostly love.
Sometimes the train derails and we must place it gently back on its tracks, just like Papa taught us.
This post is dedicated to Robert, Michael, Mary, Anita, Faerie Princess and McGillicuddy...and all those whom we have lost but still have a home in our hearts.
We miss you.