Growing up, my Mom made us have a "fancy Christmas tree", meaning it had to be perfect, complete with matching, color coordinated ornaments like the trees you see on display at the mall... I remember being so sad when she decided that we would no longer drown our tree in tinsel and mismatched ornaments. We were in elementary school when she took ownership of our tree and packed all the ornaments we loved putting up every year. This was the same year that we moved into the huge two-story home my dad built that had a formal living room with a big window facing the street, where our Christmas tree was to reside, thereafter.
I remember feeling like some of our family's Christmas magic left that year, and it never really came back. We finally had the biggest house on the block, with the perfect Christmas tree in the oversized window facing our neighbors. Everything about my family following the move from our early childhood home looked perfect, but like our fancy tree, it didn't feel perfect.
Our family only lasted 5 years in the big house before my parents began their 4 year divorce battle over all the things, including us. The funny thing is, my fondest memories of Christmas were the years that we didn't have much money. The holiday pictures where we look the happiest were taken before we owned the boats and campers and jet-skis and furniture we weren't allowed to sit on. My best childhood memories are from the times when it felt as though we were on top of each other, with zero personal space. These were the years when our home wasn't cleaned by housekeepers, but was messy and still so beautiful, like our Christmas tree.
Before becoming a Mom, I decided that when it came to these kinds of things, I would do things differently. I'm so much like my mom, in so many ways and I love that I am. Where I'm different - where I make a conscious effort to be different, is when it comes to this kind of stuff. I want our tree to be messy and full of love. I don't want Gracie to start every holiday in tears because I've made her sleep in hot rollers and wear pantyhose and a stiff slip under her dress all day. I don't want our holidays to begin with shouting because, 'if we're late to church everyone will notice'. I want the opposite of all of this and I think that so far, G and I have done a good job of keeping that balance.
When Gracie was a baby, we saved a pine cone from her first camping trip and turned it into a Christmas ornament, marking the beginning of her many adventures! Now Brother Bear has one too (that's Dallas Cowboy themed) and I adore them both! They hang on our tree along with preschool handmade ornaments, my childhood ornaments that I reclaimed as an adult and whatever else any one of us feels like adding, year to year.
All of what I've shared above is why I was so devastated when I thought my 10-year-old Christmas tree was a goner and why it meant the world to me when Georgia fixed it a few weeks ago.
I don't want the bigger thing, or the newer thing, or the fancier thing. I want the stuff in life that brings me back to special memories. I want the things that set my heart on fire.
These "little things" and my beautiful family will always be enough.
We're keeping the Christmas magic.