Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, it’s time again to think about my favorite liturgical season…Christmas. Lately, Christmas at the Holland house means puppy proofing. Last year, I crafted a makeshift fence for our tree to protect our ornaments, our lights, and our packages from tiny teeth. This year requires more thought and effort because Simon is now about the size of a small horse. Fencing is moot, so we’ve foregone the family ornaments for a simple, pre-lit tree with shatterproof balls. As for table-top decorations???? Forget it. Everything has been pared down to the essentials: tradition and sentiment.
Somewhere before modern commercialism wooed my wallet, I seemed to have had a better grasp of those concepts. My earliest Christmas memory is a perfect example; it’s become one of my lessons on living and loving stories. I love to tell this story to my students because it's about the power of simplicity. It’s magical. It’s timeless.
My mother and I were living in a new apartment, having recently moved back to Georgia with whatever she could pack in our car. We had very little that year, but that didn’t curb Mom’s Christmas spirit. She lucked up on a second-hand tree from a neighbor. She saved egg cartons and cardboard packaging; she bought tin foil and ornament hangers. Her egg cartons became silver bells, and her cardboard became silver ornament shapes and a star for the top of our tree. We strung popcorn that year with needles and thread. Honestly..I have no memory of lights on our tree that year. But in my mind’s eye, that tree doesn’t need lights. It always sparkles…in my mind and in my heart.
Now that the Holland house is puppy-proofed for Christmas, I find it’s all we really need. It too is simple. Our tree is up and festive. We have exterior lights and my spiffy, new-to-me, vintage Santa is on the porch. There’s a wreath on our door. One nativity sits on our mantle; two hail from tall furniture pieces; a fourth sits in our hall. You may have seen it on my Gratitude 365 page, purchased specifically with Simon in mind. It’s resin and heavy enough that I don’t think he’ll bother. (FYI -- I’m knocking on my wooden head as I type this. Feel free to knock yours.)
When all said and done…when the parties have ended and the packages are open…when my son is grown and reflects…will he remember this Christmas as “the year my mom didn’t put out the GA Tech ornaments?” It’s hard to be sure, but probably not. Probably.
And who know? Maybe…just maybe…my son will have acquired his own lesson on living and loving story, a story to pass along as well.