My daughter is obsessed with the traditions of Christmas, not only in the conventional way. In our family way. Every year we groan collectively as she starts to pull down boxes and boxes of decorations, each year earlier than the next. My laziness turns quickly to happiness as I watch her rapidly transform our house into Christmas.
I used to have a larger role in all of this activity as the muscle of the operation. The one who could bring down the boxes, drive to the tree farm, load the tree. This year she had her own set of muscles, the boxes manifested into our living room without my help. For probably the last time I heard “Dad, can we please get the tree today”? I realized she could to get the tree on her own this year as I always seemed to find a way to get everyone to agree on the tree that I thought was best.
This year, she drove off with her young man and came home with a tree. We passed them on our road as they were returning, snapped a picture of the triumphant hunters. When I came home I was stunned by the size of it jammed in our garage. Later that night, she asked me for help to bring it into the house. “We are going to have to measure this one” I said… to make it work, we cut 2 feet off of the bottom of a 13 foot Douglas Fir.
Last night the tree was decorated to our usual collection of Christmas cd’s, the old decorations were hung along with new strings of lights. This year my daughter began talking about which ornaments she would keep and bring along when she eventually moves out. The tongue in cheek protests from my wife and I that went something like “hey we spent years collecting this stuff, you’ve got to get your own”.
This morning as usual I was the first up. I walked the dogs, fed them, got the wood stove re-stocked. While sitting down looking at the tree with a cup of coffee, I was reminded how much I love this time of year. Staring at the tree my eyes traveling from ornament to ornament. A lifetime of memories flooding in from each one like affirmations of a life lived attempting to balance the needs of others with the needs of my soul. Affirmations that despite the constant and sometimes seemingly epic juggling act, I just might have been successful after all.