I can’t take the tree down yet, though everything in my Midwestern-white-person-Lutheran-raised self says it would be proper to do so. Ben and I got a new one this year, and it’s so lovely, looks almost real, and it’s loaded with ornaments, seven and a half feet tall, the paper star just grazing the ceiling. As I write, the white lights are the only artificial light on except for the glow of this monitor. This year Ben enjoyed looking at the ornaments, hearing stories about when we got them or where they came from.
This year the tree is also special because my friend Laurie came from Port Huron with Vincent, her son, and the four of us put the tree up together. They even made the trek to Kmart with us to wander down the aisle, pick out the best tree, chop it down and bring it home. We laughed and laughed, and Laurie and I stayed up until after 2 a.m. just catching up. Vincent was born on Ben’s nine-month birthday, and the two boys, both Cars fans, got along very well. I’d neglected my friendship with Laurie, and it was great to renew it, and I’m so glad they shared putting up the tree with Ben and me. Vincent got to put the star on top, and Ben got to put the traditional chicken on top. (My trees have always had a chicken on top and a pink flamingo in the upper third.)
Vincent sparked a slight debate, calling for the star to be placed on the top, his mother having been more responsible about his spiritual training than I have been with Ben’s. The compromise was that we would put both the chicken and the star on top, and the boys would split the duties. Luckily, I had a paper star in the box of ornaments—a paper star that looks more like a gold snowflake, which actually was from my childhood trees. Those were mostly always of the fresh variety, always put up just moments before Christmas and always left up long into January until the fallen needles obscured the carpet in a perfect circle beneath the gilded tree.
Maybe by Valentine’s Day I’ll be able to take it down.
My celebration of Christmas is far more pagan than it used to be—no more church choir centered holiday. Mostly for me it’s a time to pause and relish the gifts I have, know them and name them.
Fabulous ever-green trees and the tall black spruce outside our back door. Birds—chicken, flamingo and the hardy Carolina wren who still swoops down to the suet feeder. Boys who talk and laugh and run and play. Friends who bear with me throughout the winters. Stars from my childhood. The half-moon tonight so bright it casts shadows.