Maria begged me to come home early last night so we could decorate the Christmas tree. I made her day when I pulled in the driveway on my bike at 5:10. Although I was still talking to my work colleague, Ri jumped in my arms and whispered “thank you thank you!” With that kind of welcome, I will come home early any day. She dragged me in the house and down the steps to retrieve Grandma Menkedick’s Christmas tree standing upright in the cardboard box under the stairs. Jon would rather have a “live” tree and I would, too but I also love having something of Grandma’s so central in our house. I know that she would be proud that her tree continues to grace our living room because she always loved for me to tell her that we put it up in years’ past when she was still with us. She loved contributing in that way. And the kids love helping to resurrect it each year.
Sophie was over when we started piecing it together. She commented that it doesn’t look like a Christmas tree and Ri immediately jumped in on Grandma’s behalf.
“Just wait until we get all the branches in place. Then you will change your mind.”
And she was right. After we inserted all the branches and flushed it out in accordance with the instructions found on the original tethered but legible, delicate piece of brown paper, it looked just like a baby fir you’d find at a tree lot. Pure magic.
After that task was completed, we ran up to the attic in a mad rush to find the boxes of ornaments ranging in age of creation from 40 years to last year. Maria and Mario teamed up to lug down one box and I lugged the other. Rocco followed behind us trying to nose his way to the front of the line (which he eventually accomplished even with Mario yelling “No, Rocco!”). Maria and her sentimental self reached in to the box and pulled out an ornament that I had bought for my grandma in 1978. Mario went to grab it and she scolded him: “this is a prized possession of mom’s so you have to be gentle.” Meanwhile, Rocco gave us all heart attacks with his barreling under the tree and shaking the ornaments. However, he only broke one which is the same number I broke.
The kids took some down time from ornament hanging and ornament admiring in order to play “hide-the-pickle” (No, it’s not some inappropriate adult game). We have an ornament that Uncle Jack gifted me in the shape of a pickle because I love pickles so much. The kids made up a game two Christmas’ ago where they hide the pickle ornament somewhere on the tree and the other kid has to find it. Loads of fun for hours! Sophie won by hiding it in such a snug place in the middle of the tree that both Ri and Mario gave up.
Finally, after the pickle game ended and the ornaments were hung, Mario placed the blue star on the top of the tree. Ri has let him do it every year because she loves to see how excited he gets when she says “ok, you can do it” (plus she gets to photograph it).
And so, another year of Christmas tree decoration is complete… unless Rocco decides to wrestle the tree and all of its ornaments. But I think he even feels Grandma’s spirit because after a few swipes at it, he laid down to rest by its side.