It is my most favourite morning of the year.
That first morning when I enter the living room and turn on the Christmas tree lights for the first time of the season.
Normally, this morning doesn’t arrive until after December 9th (my birthday). But, originally my sister was to have been here this week, and as C.C. and I are leaving to visit our grandson and family right after Christmas, we decided to deviate from tradition and put the tree up early.
Which is lovely. As I write and reflect and look out the window at the world slowly awakening, the beautiful reflection of the lights shimmering on the tree has been added to my view.
How blessed I am.
My youngest daughter and her partner came over last night and joined us for dinner and in decorating. We laughed and shared stories and my daughter threw in the occasional comment about my tendency to want to ‘over decorate’. “Less is more” just doesn’t seem to align with my vision of Christmas.
When the last ornament was placed, and the angel carefully set upon the treetop, we all agreed, Vincent is a beautiful tree (And yes, he has been named after the artist in celebration of creativity, passion and all the vibrant colours of the world.)
It is in the decorating of the Christmas tree I feel the movement of our family tree the most. My eldest daughter and C.C.’s daughter both live in Vancouver now. C.C.’s son is on a U.S. tour with his band, leaving just the four of us to do the honours.
It was lovely and sweet and filled with moments to cherish and while holding the slight bittersweet tang of missing those we love who have over the years always been here to decorate.
And that’s the thing about this special time of year. It isn’t about gifts wrapped under the tree, or rushing from store to store to buy that perfect something someone may or may not want. It’s about family and friends gathering together around a tree, a table, on a skating rink, a toboggan hill, a walk through the woods.
It’s about time spent laughing and teasing, telling old stories we’ve heard countless times before but that still ring true with the sounds of love and familiarity that imbue their spirit.
It’s about one of the ‘kids’ finding the tackiest ornament (the one I swear I’m going to relegate to the garbage bin every year but just can’t seem to do it) and placing it in a very visible spot on the tree because you know, I’m going to hate it there! (And yes, this happens every year and I always feel the warm glow of love in its happening.)
It’s about Love.
Missing and longing too.
Because it is at this time of year, along with the loving of time together, I feel the absence of the ones I love, who aren’t here, the most. Whether they have moved away or have left this physical world for places beyond my ken, there is always that mushy place in my heart that has the sweet, tender aura of absence.
We decorated the tree last night. I sit at my desk this morning, it’s lights a shimmering glow in the window before me.
The river flows. Traffic moves along the bridge. The sky is dark.
Nat King Cole sings Christmas music in the background. Dawn light will soon creep into the dark, gently tucking night back into the envelope of day that lies in waiting just beyond the horizon.
We decorated the tree last night. My birthday has not yet come and gone, neither has my beloved’s who celebrates his the day before mine.
Possibly, in decorating the tree before our birthdays this year, we’ve created a new tradition of when Christmas appears in our home. Perhaps, this will be a new way of stepping into this season of Peace, Hope, Love and Joy that will lovingly embrace the ever-changing landscape of our family tree.
The tree is lit. My heart is light and just a teeny bit achy. All is well with my soul because deep within me is the tender knowing that, no matter where the ones I love are, they are always at home in my heart. I carry them with me always.