A few days ago, I got down the can-o-ornaments and spread them out on the counter. I just could not decide whether to put the Christmas tree up this year or not.
We did not "do" a Christmas tree until our baby turned two or three. At the time, it seemed like such an expensive ($40) little four footer. We have a small house, and it has always been kid friendly. But, this has also been a house of just guys.
When the boys were little, I remember them fighting over the ornaments. Decorating the tree was a job for reforee mom. I doled out the ornaments fairly. And whenever you do things with boys the job at hand becomes a race. A competition. How fast can we decorate this tree?
One year the boys did not want me to take it down. Back when they were all sharing one room. So, I moved it to their room, and it made a great nightlight.
Ususally the drill involved waiting until Dad got home so that he could precisely wrestle the strings of lights on the tree. One year I forgot I had shoved it back int he box with its light strings attached, and felt really silly when I told the boys we have to wait until Dad gets home, only to find the lights were already on it.
For the past few years, as the boys go to college, and the oldest got married and left us to start his own family, enthusiasm for the tree waned. Some years the two left at home were willing, but reluctant unless it was their idea. And now, down to one, with May his exit date, I sensed that Dad and middle child did not care one way or another. And where to put it? I'd rather have seats for visiting than take up floor space for a tree. And I don't want to interfere with nightly Scrabble.
Yesterday, it hit me. Keep it simple. Put up the tree, but with an extension so that I can lift it off the Scrabble table for our nightly games. The tree looks nice. And I got to take my time and place the ornaments just so. I added a few new things---like the chop sticks, because we go to Pei Wei so much these days. And the old beanie baby toys and toys from the Babe movie, and Toy Story. It is still kid friendly for The Grandchild. And I got used to doing it myself.
Traditions change. I am not married to traditions. As our boys grow up and fly the nest, our current tradition is transition. I am trying to stay flexible and enjoy every stage. But, I sure miss those little guys even if they were LOUD. When the leaves fill the gutters, I see a little blonde boy in tiny jeans shuffling around the block. That little guy climbs roofs these days, and installs solar panels. He grew up. How short it seems looking back, that they were little. It was such an intense time. High alert, 24/7. They no longer fit in my lap, and they will never lay their head on my shoulder again like they did when they were babies. But, the ornaments spark memories. The picture of middle son on Santa's lap---he whipped it out as ID when cashing a check at the bank when he was eight or nine.
I hope firsborn has the pig ornament and the red feathered bird on their tree. And all the trumpets and french horns...