I’ve always celebrated my Christmases at my parents’ house, with the exception of the Christmas I was pregnant with Em and we spent Christmas up at Jake’s folks’ house. The first year we were married, Jake and I celebrated with my family, as his lives in another state. We didn’t have a tree in our apartment. The second year we traveled to his parents’ house and celebrated with them. The third (and last) Christmas we were living with my parents, so we celebrated with them. Since then, I’ve lived with my parents. But this is the first time I will wake up to my own Christmas tree in my own apartment.
It took two tries to decorate our Christmas tree. I got the tree up and put together Tuesday night. Wednesday we got our ornaments from my folks’ house. We put up the tree topper; the cord wasn’t long enough to reach the lights cord! Frustrating, considering both the tree and the topper came from the same company. We decided to decorate the tree anyway. We got about 1/4 of the way through the ornaments before we realized they weren’t ours. They were my parents’ ornaments. So, no ornaments and no topper. Thursday we got an extension cord and the right ornaments. Added a few candy canes, and the tree was done! While I can tell that our tree didn’t cost much (not as full as a more expensive tree would be), Em doesn’t care. It’s her tree and she helped decorate it, accompanied by Bing and Dean and others from the Christmas station on my Pandora.
I don’t allow myself to listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. I actually cringe if I hear it before then; in high school I was a member of the Pacific Chorale Children’s Chorus and we recorded a Christmas album for Scholastic Books. We rehearsed and recorded the music all summer long. Christmas in July has a WHOLE different meaning for me.
Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. While I don’t like that the stores display Christmas decorations when we’re barely done with Halloween, I don’t really care. Christmas isn’t about decorations and presents. It’s about the story. The story that every year the children and youth of our church tell to our congregation on Christmas Eve. It’s about the story about a bright star, the one my daughter is keeping an eye out for every night, only to be disappointed when she realizes that the bright light she spotted is actually an airplane. It’s about the overwhelming feeling both of gratitude and humility at the same time as I leave the more solemn and personal midnight service at my church.
It’s about helping my daughter to create memories around events and family, rather than the presents she receives. From making cookes to decorating the tree, from walking around neighborhoods looking at each house’s light display to practicing for the Christmas Eve performance, from learning new carols to making the Christmas-morning cinnamon rolls for our family to eat while we open our presents, from the daily ritual of the Advent calendar to the opening of just one present on Christmas Eve which is always new pajamas. This is Christmas to me.
It doesn’t really matter to me where I spend my Christmas. It’s who it’s spent with that means the most.
But it is kinda nice to have my own tree.