Friday, July 3, 2009

O, Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree was meant to last only so long.
In our family, a family who loves all things Christmas, this means our holiday decorations linger until Valentine's Day when we gently swap out green ribbons for pink.
Sure, there was the year that Memaw left up the tree in the family room until Easter, but that was done by request to humor my 96-year-old grandmother who suffers from dementia.
Never, to my knowledge anyway, has a tree lasted until the Fourth of July.
But if you walk down my suburban street tomorrow night in the 100-degree Texas heat as the fireworks boom you can peer into the upstairs window and see the glow of hundreds of tiny lights frosting a lone 6-foot-tall pine.
The tree belongs to my five-year-old son William.
You see, as an overzealous holiday decorator, I prop up full-sized themed trees in every bedroom in the house. I traditionally do a leopard tree in the dining room, a kitchen tree covered in rustic snowmen, a travel tree with ornaments collected on trips. Elizabeth's fir features pink feathers and gingham ribbon.
Will's tanenbaum, however, is everyone's favorite.
His alphabet tree is covered in construction paper letters the twins and I made when they were two. The branches are further layered with old toys and momentos of their toddlerhood: There's the yellow stuffed giraffe that once dangled from their baby Gymnai, paper Wiggles figures cut out from an old musical program, teeny finger puppets given to us by Aunt Michelle long outgrown.
During the holidays, Will would request the tree be left glowing until he fell asleep and, of course, I complied.
By the time St. Patrick's Day had come and gone, turning on the tree had become a nighttime tradition.
"I need a hug and a kiss," Will would say, "then you need to turn on my tree."
So I would.
By Memorial Day, I had convinced Will to at least let me put away the decorations.
"It won't be special come Christmas if we keep it up all year," I coaxed.
"Oh yes," he said, "it will."
So the naked tree took up permanent residence in the corner of William's room next to the train table.
Occasionally, he would put a sock or two on its branches for old time's sake. Sometimes, a wet wash cloth would migrate from the bathroom to the tree and get crusty drying there.
Our housekeeper, who strips her home of all holiday decor at 12:01 a.m. on December 26, rolled her eyes and continued to dust the tree.
Then, sometime in June, several strands of the lights gave up in protest.
"How about taking the tree down now?" I asked Will.
"No, Mama, we can't do that," he said. "I need my tree."
Yesterday, however, Elizabeth changed my perspective altogether.
"Mama," she said, rubbing her brother's back, "Will isn't behind. He's just rushing the season. He'll be all ready when Christmas comes."
Of course he will.

1 comment:

Jamie said...

This one almost makes me cry - they are so darn sweet!