Like many, as soon as the official Thanksgiving holiday was finished my family's focus turned to Christmas. My children wanted to decorate our home right away. So, with hesitation, I agreed.
The only reason I hesitated is because I really want decorating for Christmas to stick out in my children's memories. I want all of their senses engaged in the moment, the smells, the sounds, the sights, everything. And on the day they wanted to decorate I just wasn't prepared. After three days of eating turkey and visiting multiple homes of our family to celebrate Thanksgiving, I just wanted a day on the couch of relaxation. But as they often do, my children won.
So to make the day special I lit a pine scented candle and found my go-to Christmas album on the iPod. Yep, it's an old N 'Sync Christmas CD I loved in my early twenties and still listen to every year. Then I carried box after box of decorations up from the basement.
See the problem with telling a four and seven year-old that we are going to start decorating is they don't understand, nor appreciate, the "set up" involved. They continuously asked when they could put ornaments on the tree. And I continuously told them I needed a little time to get everything ready. My husband and I carried our fake tree upstairs to find disappointment on my son's face. He wanted a real tree, a high-maintenance, needs food and water every day, sheds needles all over the floor, real, tree. I explained to him that this is why we don't have pets. We aren't home enough to care for a pet, nor a real tree.
After assembling the three-part tree the kiddos started to hang ornaments. I caught them early and asked them nicely to remove what they had hung, reminding them we needed to "shape" our tree and put lights on first. All I got back from them was blank looks.
I continued on and showed them how to manipulate the wire branches on the tree to look more real. They helped for about 3 seconds and then lost interest. As they played I did my best to keep my spirits up. As I finished shaping and putting lights on the tree I noticed my hands and arms were all scratched. Thanks to the branches and needles I looked like a cat had attacked me.
Finally the tree was ready for decorating. I made myself a cup of hot chocolate, added just a drop or two of Kahlua, topped it with whipped cream and had a candy cane to stir. Then I finally relaxed on the couch and watched my kids decorate. It was so wonderful to watch their faces as they picked out ornaments and decided where to place them. They found treasures from the past few years they had made at daycare and Sunday school. A few had their hand prints or even pictures on them.
My daughter found one of my son when he was about one year-old and she exclaimed to him "look at how cute you were!" What a wonderful moment. I truly hope when they are parents they share these memories with their children and start their own traditions. This is what the season of joy is all about; sharing moments and love with those closest to us and creating memories that will last a lifetime.
When the kids were finished decorating we lit the tree with excitement. My husband and I laughed at the lopsided decorations; only the bottom 3 feet was decorated. Of course my four year-old daughter then asked if Santa would be coming right away. Poor thing. It was hard enough for her to wait two hours to decorate the tree, now she would have to wait weeks before Santa would come.
Overall it was a fun day. With the decorating complete we can now focus on creating other memories. We are scheduled to ring the bells for the Salvation Army, need to buy gifts for our church's Giving Tree project and started our own Christmas Jar to deliver to someone in need.
My lesson learned is that the "set up" was all worth it in the end. However next year, maybe we will buy a real tree that is self-feeding with lights already on. I'm not sure if there is such a thing, but I'm going to try.