Friday, December 9, 2016

Oh Christmas tree

Dh & I bought and put up a new Christmas tree last weekend. This is the third (artificial) Christmas tree we've owned in 31 years of marriage. We didn't have a tree at all the first year we were married. Dh could probably care less whether we had a tree or not, but I cared -- a lot. ;)  Even when we went away to spend Christmas with my grandparents, my family would always put up & decorate our own Christmas tree. My parents still use some of the same ornaments they've had since THEY were first married, and I still love to bring them out & decorate the tree with them when I arrive "home" to spend the holidays with them. 

So the second year we were married, dh & I bought a small, slightly scrawny fold-up tree for $50 at Canadian Tire (it's not just for tires, lol). We had that for 12 years, then bought a new tree at Sears in 1998, the year we lost Katie. I wrote about how it became our "Katie tree," here.

After 17 years of use, the tree was still OK, but starting to look a just little ragged and tired. I was also tired of wrestling with strings of lights year after year (many of which were burning out -- we were facing investing in a whole new set of lights this year), and casting longing looks at the pre-lit trees in the stores. ;)  So when we were getting ready to move, we decided to get rid of the old tree and find something new for our new home.

That proved to be easier said than done. We shuttled back & forth between several different stores, comparing trees and finding fault with most of them. This tree looked TOO fake... that tree looked great but had flashing lights on it (I wanted steady clear ones). That tree over there was nice but WAY too expensive. We finally found a tree (again at Canadian Tire -- although for a lot more than $50 this time, lol)  that we could both live with. (Well, that *I* could live with... at that point, dh just wanted to go home, with or without the damned tree, lol.)  It's 6.5 feet, not too skinny but not too wide for the corner we wanted to put it in; a little plastic-y, perhaps, but easy to set up and glorious looking when lit up -- no light-string wrestling required! (Yes, the lights are clear, warm & steady.)

Because this tree is 6.5 feet tall versus the 7.5 feet of our old tree, I didn't have room for all the ornaments I've used in years past. For example, each year at our support group's holiday candlelighting service, attendees would be invited to take home a pair of hand-knit baby booties off the Christmas tree as a memento. Needless to say, after 10 years of attending the annual service, both as a client and as a facilitator, I'd amassed a substantial collection of booties -- and I used them ALL on my tree, year after year. Having a tree full of baby booties might seem kind of weird, but I didn't care.

This year, I decided that one pair of booties would do, versus the entire collection. ;) Likewise, I used to have enough teddy bear angels (most of them Ty Beanie Babies) to form almost a complete circle on the floor around the tree -- an honour guard of sorts, I used to think of it. ;) When we were getting ready to move, though, I had to take a good hard look at a lot of my collections of stuff -- and I decided that most of my Beanie Babies could go. I did save a few of the really special/favourite ones, though. Most of the Classic Pooh ornaments I've amassed over the years are still on the tree -- although I'm sorry to say a couple got broken or chipped while decorating.  Alas, those lovely laminate wood floors are far less forgiving than carpet. :(   (But while the new tree is smaller, all the really important ornaments are still on it!)

It seems weirdly appropriate, somehow, that we got a new tree the year we lost Katie -- a year in which everything (and nothing) changed for us -- and now, in a year in which so much changed in our lives again, that we got a new tree again.  A lot has changed in our lives this past year, these past 18 years. Change isn't easy for me, but you learn to adapt, and certainly the passage of time has helped make it easier. I didn't use all the booties or teddy bears or other ornaments that I once did. That might have been a whole lot harder, 15 years ago or 10 or maybe even 5 -- but I did it now, and the world didn't stop turning.  ;)  (It's still very much a Katie tree -- perhaps just not quite as much so as it was in years past.) Time passes, life moves along, and the unthinkable becomes, if not welcomed then OK. Traditions can evolve. (Sometimes, lol). We all come to readiness and acceptance in our own sweet time.

And I guess I had to leave off a few of the old ornaments to make room for some new ones, too. :) 

A Hallmark find. :)

The decorated tree in a corner of our condo.

1 comment:

  1. Your phrase "a year in which everything (and nothing) changed for us" explains exactly the Christmas of 2001 (and too, of 2002), and my pregnancy loss that changed everything and nothing.

    Your tree looks beautiful. And I love the "new home" ornament! I like the way you talk about your ornaments too, as it is very similar to how I feel about mine. (My Christmas card this year is a photo of some of the decorations on my tree from a few years ago. Though I hardly send anyone cards these days, I couldn't resist having one with the tree on it.)