I have many a fond memory of traipsing through the tree farm looking for the perfect tree to cut, the frustrations of getting the tree straight in the stand, and then finally the decorating. Every year growing up I decorated the tree with my mother. Over the years I learned my mother had lots of rules for decorating the tree. Certain ornaments had to be placed near the top of the tree, some ornaments had to be placed on the back of the tree (special enough to be hung but not aesthetic enough for the front), and some had to be placed low on the tree. I was taught young to follow the tree decorating rules because if I didn’t the ornaments would be moved once I went to bed. It used to drive me crazy to wake up and find my ornaments moved.
When I moved into my first house, my mother boxed all the holiday ornaments I had grown up with and gave them to me. Now my boys decorate our family tree with many of the same ornaments I handled at their age. I find myself “teaching” my children the same tree decorating rules that my mother so engrained in me. The boys ask a lot of “why” questions of the rules and for many of them I have no answer other than “because Grandma always said so.” I suppose it’s another little way that I keep my mother’s memory alive in my boys’ hearts. My youngest will never have his own memories of Grandma, being only 2.5 when she passed, but at almost 7 years old now he is remembering that all the bird ornaments “fly” near the top of the tree. He also knows the Lowly Worm that I just had to have when I was 5 years old, always only goes on the back of the tree. It’s cute to see my boys decide which ornaments they each get to place on the tree and even to see which ornaments they argue over putting up.
This year I relinquished all control over the tree decorating process – I let it go. Due to the new puppy, we opted not to put the more breakable ornaments up, just in case our Cookie girl was a little too interested in the inside tree. My #2 diligently helped me untangle the lights – a true rite of passage. My #1 took great care in deciding where each ornament should go on the tree and great pride in doling out the decorating rules just as my mother taught them to me. I watched and listened and smiled, as my children reminded me of happy memories and the holiday spirit. These little instants can make the stress and rush of the holiday season fade into the background. These are the moments to remember.