My family got our Christmas tree on the weekend. It’s a bit earlier than we usually do, as December is not yet upon us, but the kids were asking and we had a free weekend afternoon with mild weather, so we took full advantage. We get a real tree, and we do as city-people do, and trek to one of the local rural Christmas tree farms for the full urban Instagram experience. Gone are the days of my Albertan prairie childhood, when we would drive country roads and walk through waist-deep snow in search of “the one.” The opening scene of Chevy Chase’s ‘Christmas Vacation’ comes to mind. These days, my husband and I do our best to give our kids a new version of that experience, and it’s definitely a Christmas tradition that we all look forward to.
We borrowed my father-in-law’s saw, again part of the tradition, as my husband remembers his childhood Christmas trees being cut down with that particular saw. I marvel at the changes in our children each year, and remember the early years of babies in carriers and blankets, sneaking in tree-cutting between naps and feeds, worried about the cold and the little legs that couldn’t hike very far. Now our kids are involved in the whole process, from cutting to carrying, unloading to decorating. My daughter’s choice of tree got the nod this year, a point of pride for her, and my son placed the star on top. In fact, once we got it home and in the tree stand, the kids decorated the whole tree by themselves while my husband and I sat on the couch, acutely aware of the fact that we’re in the midst of a wonderful stage of parenting, sandwiched between the emotions of toddlers and the moods of teenagers.
We carefully unwrapped the ornaments from their newspaper homes and laid them on the coffee table one by one. And as the table filled, we counted: 91, each with a story.
Many come from my parents, as they give both of my children an ornament based upon their current interests- we’ve got everything from Thomas the Train to Elsa, Captain Phasma to Dora, Harry Potter to the Toronto BlueJays. When my kids move out, they’ll take their ornaments with them and have a head start on filling a tree of their own. Many come from my husband’s childhood, the most precious being a tiny stocking from the year he was born. Some come from gifts from friends, some from Winter weddings, some from school crafts. But consistently, year after year, the most magical part for me is not the ornaments themselves, but the stories they tell.
We’ve got 91 stories on display; 91 feelings of nostalgia, 91 tokens of gratitude, 91 memories of happiness, 91 reasons to give thanks.