Yesterday I picked Z up from school and we set out to find a Christmas tree. I was shopping by price, Z was shopping by love of the perfect tree. Which also means the tallest to an almost six year old. We went to the first place but didn't fall in love with any. The second stop was Westons farm stand in Conway, and Zach immediately walked up to a tree and said, "This one." He did the same thing last year and it really was a perfect tree. This time I have to say I was a little nervous because some of them were over $50 and this one had no tag on it. Not to mention it did appear to be the tallest tree but only because of the nearly two feet of bare "whip" towering above it's thick green branches. Or are they boughs? Anyway. We left the lot with a $35 tree tied to the roof of my Subaru.
Years ago I was not in charge of tree duty. Actually, even after I got divorced someone would help me out, and this is only the second year that Z and I have been refining our own tree getting tradition. It's pretty empowering and fantastic! I got it off the car (as he gave me direction and encouragement), I sawed off a few inches on the bottom (as he pointed out I should lean onto it more to make it cut through easier) and got it in the house (as he stood inside and told me which way to move so I didn't hit the door). Z guided it into the tree stand and he held it while I secured it. And then we stepped back to check out our new find. Once again, my boy had picked out a spectacular tree!
Zach was all about putting up the ornaments and and was impatient as I strung the white lights. As we dug into the box of ornaments I realized that we are creating our own traditions. When I was growing up my parents gave me an ornmament each year. The last Christmas before my mom died, she was recovering from a hyserectomy but had carefully packaged all my childhood ornaments in a box. The first year after she died I sobbed and drank my way through the tree decorating process, only to find in the morning that most ornaments were hung arms distance away from my drink. The next year was only mildly easier, and I cried when I unwrapped the silver bell given to me on my second Christmas and the snoopy carrying a tree I was given in elementary school. Every ornament had a story that I remember her telling me every year as we hung them. She had also included ornaments that I had painted. There is one from 1982; a tacky yellow sloppily painted glass ornament with the word "Frosty" scrawled in red. There are two that I made while on college break. My house was a stopping point for my room mates and friends headed to more distant locations. My memories of sitting by the fire place and painting ornaments are some of my favorite college memories. Both of my parents played piano beautifully and the night would inevitably end with us singing Frank Sinatra's My Way with the Christmas tree covered in white lights, red ribbons and our fresh creations setting the back drop for what could have been the scene for a timeless movie.
Last night as Z and I decorated the tree I shared with him the stories I'd been told over the 28 Christmases I had with my mom. I also told him the stories behind the five ornaments he's accumulated so far that will be handed to him when he is a grown up. He had decided he was the boss and would periodically stand back and admire our work, saying "Yup. She's a beauty!" and then resume hanging the soft and non breakables he was in charge of. He did keep reminding me that he had picked out the perfect tree and that I was surprised at just how good it was. It wasn't until he had gone to bed that I realized it was the first year I wasn't sad at all while decorating. I was thrilled to have him as my side kick, as my son and to be creating our own family traditions.
I have two favorite memories of last night. One was as I pulled out an ornament, said, "Ohhhhhhh... Grammy Mary Ellen LOVED this one!" To which he replied, "Mom, she loved everything." And she did. And then when I pulled out the angel she had painted he said, "Mom, I have more angels than Danette." Danette is my friend who has taught me everything I know about angelsso to date, so that says a lot. And he's right. He does have more angels around him than anyone I know!
Sorry it's been such a long post, but its just amazing to me that this is my life. Tomorrow Zachary turns six. For six years we've been fine tuning our holiday traditions. This year really felt like "ours" and I love that. Here's to many years of traditions for you and yours.