Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'll Be Home For Chirstmas

If I had it my way, I'd have a Christmas tree up year long.  I'm not going to lie; I've stretched it from the weekend before Thanksgiving until the week after my birthday.  My birthday is March 7.

The appearance of the Christmas tree marks the beginning of what has always seemed a magical season.  For me, it is more my mom's doing than Christ's and beyond her; my grandparents.  Every year I helped my grandparents put up their tree.  I'd soak the branches in the bathtub with my Grandpa and then after it was up, I would spend hours decorating with my Grandma.  She would tell me the story of every ornament.  For years and years, long before I was an adult I collected ornaments and planned which ones would decorate my tree when I was an adult with my own children.  Probably an odd hobby for a long-time Pagan.  To me Christmas trees symbolize magic and family; home. 

This year, my collection has expanded expotentially; I have my mom's ornaments.  Every single one a story, a trip, a memory, a fragile thread wound from myself to her.  It is a connection between generations; my children never met my grandparents, but through the stories of Christmas ornaments they have come to know them. 

I just finished my tree tonight.  Traditionally, I start it myself, I finish it myself, I have lots of help in between.  I like to do the tinsel alone; and while I obsessively and carefully place 2-5 strands per branch, I think about how my mom would throw it on while telling me how she used to like to torture her sister by throwing it.  My aunt Donna likes it like I do; placed with intention, my mom....not so much.  Tonight my brother came over and together with the kids, we hung hundreds of ornaments on my beloved, 25 year old tree, even Dan hung out with us. My tree broke the other day; it is 25 years old, and I had a little bit of a nervous breakdown about how much I've lost this year; Dan fixed it up immediately; it will likely last 25 more.  It takes me 3 days to light it; it has over 40 strands of the big, old fashioned bulbs on 5 power strips spanning 3 separate circuits in my house (my new house will have a dedicated Christmas tree circuit, courtesy of Handy Danny).  The assembly and lighting of the tree is something I thought I liked to do alone; I have to admit, this year I had the help of tiny hands and it was nice.  Figuring out how many lights I can plug into which strips and which circuits is not for children.  The language is coarse, my temper is short; that part gets done at night, alone.  But the ornaments, that is the fun part.  As we hang them, my kids ask questions about them, about my mom, about my grandparents.  I tell stories.  I get to re-live one of the favorite parts of my own childhood with them.  Always, it makes me feel closer to my grandparents.  This year, my mom.

I thought I'd share with you a few of my favorite ornaments. As my family gets ready to spend our last Christmas in our home and our first Christmas without my mom, I am thinking constantly about home and family.  I wish for you and yours a beautiful and peaceful holiday season filled with magic; Cheli style. Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Solstice, peace.

It says "Cheli", one of her best friends has them made every year.

A hand-blown German snowman bought at Disney World with my Mom and Aidan.

Glass ballet slippers bought when the girls were born.

This one is a tape measure; spanning & recording 5 years of Aidan's growth.

A Swarovski crystal ornament, a wedding gift from my Mom.

A clown from the 50's, it lost it's umbrella long ago, but it was one of my favorite ornaments on my grandparent's tree.

A tiny mouse in a dried milk-weed pod.  My Grandma bought it for me at a craft fair at the American Legion when I was 5.  For nearly 35 years I told people it was a butterfly cocoon until I started gardening and realized it was a milk weed pod!

Sparkly love from my girls.

At my wedding, Aidan and I danced to "Baby, Mine" from Dumbo, we bought this that Christmas.

A gift from my Aunt Vicki for my wedding.

A bird and nest that were always the first ornament I hid in my Grandma's tree.

A hand-blown German glass ornament, part of a bridal set, that my Mom and Erin gave Dan and I when we got married.

A gold glass bead covered stocking from the forties; one of my Grandma's favorites.

An ornament from my Grandma's childhood.

A few years ago, my mom gave me a limited edition Artisan 6qt mixer from Kitchen Aide and this ornament, I wept with joy.  I named my mixer "Martha."

My Mom and I got this one at a craft fair at the Odium in Villa Park when Aidan was 6 months old.


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