Two years ago, we got our first full sized Christmas tree for our first holiday in a full sized house. Nine months pregnant, I did my shopping early. So all the presents were wrapped and placed under the fully decorated tree when everything changed.
The night of my father’s wake, we came home with my days old daughter, exhausted in a way that defies description. We unlocked the front door to find our tree toppled over, my grandmother’s antique ornaments shattered, the pile of gifts covered in water. We will never know if it was the cat or a weak tree stand, but at that moment in time, that sight sunk my already broken heart a few notches lower. I marched upstairs to nurse the baby. My husband unceremoniously dragged the tree into the front yard and began vacuuming. I can only imagine what it looked like passers-by – that with a week until Christmas we had just given up on sparkle and cheer.
Yesterday, we decorated our tree. The ornaments are much less cohesive now, but they are representative of our home, our family. The hardiest antiques are hung next to ornaments from my own childhood, characters I once hung on branches as my Dad lifted me in the air. And this year, Penny has her own favorites, little trinkets she keeps taking down and insisting on carrying around the house.
This time of year is hard, but as I decked the halls, I kept being flooded with gratitude for the best thing to come out of that long December. Once again this year, my girl gives us something to celebrate; she weaves sparkle and cheer through my grief.
Fallen trees can be righted. Water logged gifts can be replaced. The loved ones we’ve lost can be glimpsed in continuing the traditions we were lucky to share with them. And there’s no better way to honor them than to savor the present moment and open your heart up to all the joy this season can bring.