HOMEGROWN Life: The Return of Christmas Spirit

| 12/24/2013 8:51:00 AM

On any given day in December, you’ll find me within a five-foot radius of my Christmas tree. If you visit on the right night, you might even find my feet sticking out underneath. Coming across a grown woman sitting under a very large tree in a very tiny living room could be unnerving for some people, I’m sure. But trust me, there’s a very good reason. Let me explain.

I come from a very tight-knit family. We were together all the time, and the end-of-year holidays were especially special. In my family, we made a tradition out of almost everything, beginning with the Christmas tree.

HOMEGROWN-life-christmas-spirit-decoEvery year, the entire family piled into the van, which was stuffed with snacks and blankets and anything else we could think to grab. We’d stop for lunch after our two-hour drive, generally in the same spot, year after year. Once we were sufficiently stuffed, off we went to scour the mountainside for the “perfect” tree. My parents held back, always half-heartedly looking, allowing one of the daughters to have bragging rights for that year’s tree instead. There were always lots of laughs and pointing out of recognizable landmarks along the way. It was a day I looked forward to all year.

Decorating the tree was a family affair, as well, with everyone having their special ornaments to hang and their favorite decorations to set up. My very favorite ornament was a small, gauzy, magical fairy. She had hung on my grandmother’s tree and, for as long as I can remember, I’ve loved her. Every year I would dig through the ornaments, looking to grab her before one of my sisters did, until I finally spied one of her peach-tinted wings or delicate facial features. Once I’d hung her in the most visible spot I could find, the magic of Christmas was set alight for me.

HOMEGROWN-life-christmas-spirit-snowglobeChristmas morning was full of hugs and warmth and always three identical gifts in three different colors for each of the girls. It was, quite simply, a big old Christmas card, and for this, I am profoundly thankful.

Over the years to come, life happened. I got married (to a holiday hater, no less!) and had two beautiful babies. A decade later, I found myself divorced and overwhelmed in the aftermath. My first year as a single mom was rife with challenges that seemed to accumulate at Christmas. Adjusting to one salary was more stressful than I knew how to handle at any point, let alone at Christmas. Strike one. I went with my parents to find a tree but ended up at Home Depot in place of our traditional trip. Strike two. Once home, we set up the tree and strung the lights before I realized my vintage ornaments, along with my beloved fairy, were gone. Strike three. I’m out!

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