“It is too much work to put up the Christmas tree,” my dad said sitting from HIS worn in and worn out plush chair that had conformed to his body after all these years.
“Don’t be a scrooge,” I said half jokingly, but whole truth.
I continued on decorating the Christmas tree by myself, while my father kept firmly planted in his seat. I would not let him rain on my parade. I never let anyone do that to me anyway.
At least eight years ago or more was the last time the Wu crew put up the five foot Christmas tree adorned with childhood ornaments, tinsel, blinking colorful lights, and a gauzy star to top the tree. Once the Christmas tree disappeared in the red brick house that I grew up in, the Christmas decorations were gone, too. We also stopped going into New York City the day after Christmas at least five years ago, because it took too much time, money, and energy out of us. We just wanted to be lazy. The only tradition we kept up with was four stockings that I decorated with glitter glue to our names that hung over our non-existent fireplace. Our gifts ended up circling an exercise bike and bamboo tree that replaced the once five-foot tree that seemed so tall and huge to me when I was a tiny tyke toddler and then little girl. At my fully grown 4’11”, the 5’ tree had always seemed tall to me.
When I moved out on my own, I bought my very own two-footer tree that I nicknamed “Spruce.”Every year after Thanksgiving, I cracked open the musty cardboard box that contained ornaments from my childhood. If my parents weren’t going to use them, then I would. I dressed “Spruce” myself with these precious ornaments I grew up with AND new ornaments that I was given over the years from special people who have come, gone, and stayed. While corny Christmas music played in the background, I swooned over “Spruce,” hung the jingle-belled wreath outside my door, taped up Christmas cards (a dying doing for many in this digital age), and placed Christmas decorations all over my apartment. This year was the first year I had my kitty cat Ricky watching my every move with saucer-wide eyes as I pranced around making my own traditions. I was surprised and impressed that he didn’t try to attack the Christmas tree that was tempting with hanging ornaments. I’m sure he thinks it is a very fancy lamp.
To me, Christmas was NOT Christmas without a Christmas tree. Growing up and even after all these years, I have forgotten the gifts I was given, but ALWAYS remembered Christmas crack of mornings of us ripping open the shiny and holiday-adorned wrapping paper and then gorging on a huge homemade breakfast. I try to recall the traditions that we have in our family, and realize that we do not have any except talking, eating, sleeping, and feasting….not necessarily in this order. I had always been the one initiating and trying to duplicate the sappy and saccharine Hallmark movie Christmases with my family and even my friends, but I see now that Christmas is NOT always picture perfect. Christmas can be a very lonely, stressful, and even sad time for many. More than that, traditions that we create or that somehow just happen change and even fall apart because life and people change. I know now that when my parents are no longer here that I will volunteer at a Church or a soup kitchen to help those who are in need. People move, leave, and die.
Last night, I stopped by at my parents place. I was in a grouchy and tired mood from running around everywhere, but my grouchiness dissipated when my Dad and Stepmom pushed a button to reveal blinking and beautiful glittering lights stringed on our red stockings and on a nearly three-footer Christmas tree. I could not believe it! A Christmas tree was back in the Wu household! It was a sight to behold! A beauty that left me speechless and sentimental! A feeling that Christmas was here! Old traditions. New traditions. These traditions match our ever-changing life and world.
What are some traditions that you have with the people you love? How did certain traditions come about with your family or friends? Are there certain traditions out of obligation? What traditions have changed over the years for you and do you miss them or happy to do without them? When do you feel that Christmas is REALLY here?
Wishing you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas full of blessings and good tidings!