Before dementia robbed my mother of herself, she loved the Christmas season. For her, decorating the tree was special. Mom went to great lengths to have the perfect tree, all ornaments strategically placed, everything color coordinated, garland just right, hundreds of tiny white lights hanging from every branch. It just killed her to see my tree when my children were toddlers, all ornaments hanging just as high as the child could reach. I didn’t dare move them because each child knew exactly where they hung their ornaments. The bottom half of the tree was decorated, the top half, well not so much.
My girls still love decorating my tree and make a great effort to be home to help. They also like to torture me, hanging the tackiest ornaments from their childhood for all to see. There’s the plastic apple with “room mom” painted on it, and the construction paper star made by one of the kids, or the clothes pin reindeer. Then there’s the huge parachute santa face ornament that my youngest daughter always insists on hanging front and center because she knows how much I hate it. The more I complain the tackier the tree becomes, but it is all in fun. I long ago gave up the notion of ever having that perfect tree like mom’s.
Funny thing is I never realized how much I actually love those tacky ornaments haphazardly hung on the tree or the ever crooked angel barely hanging on to the top until this year. Usually taking down the tree consists of a family member hurriedly ripping ornaments off of the tree and throwing them in a box in an attempt to help. This year was different. I was alone, carefully removing each ornament, reminiscing about each one before wrapping them in tissue and placing them in the box. For the first time ever I realized how special my tacky little tree is and how I would never want it any different.
Oh, I’m sure the girls and I will continue to playfully argue about the decorating of the tree, but only I will know how much I love each and every ornament from their childhood. I’m keeping that to myself, I don’t want to spoil their fun by telling them.