We got the tree on Saturday night.
My daughter had been on me about getting the tree and outside decorations. For years she has wanted lights on the house. The problem was after we re modeled our house nearly 10 years ago those little hook thingies have never been replaced. Every year she begs for Christmas lights. Every year I say ok and every year I get to the store too late. All of those hook thingies are gone.
On Saturday, she gets up at 1:00 pm (normal for a teenager) and comes out to the kitchen.
“Let’s go Christmas shopping.”
We’re out the door by 2:00 pm.
One of the great things about my daughter is her incredible sense of style and ability to figure out the perfect gift for others. She is a born shopper. When she was four she helped me pick out hardware for the kitchen cabinets.
At our first stop we manage to get 80% of the family shopping done in about one hour. Travel time included we are leaving the store by 3:30 pm.
We run two more errands, 4:00 pm.
Next stop: Home Depot for decorations. The girl is determined to have the house lit up this year.
The selection is limited. She just looks at me.
“Mom, every year it’s like this. Why don’t you start earlier?”
I hang my head in shame. She’s right I don’t focus on the holiday until it is right upon us. She searches the shelves until she finds tiny multi-colored lights for the tree and some outdoor decorations.
In the past, I have protested outside decorations such as the lit up reindeer and sleigh. I favor the subtle evergreen wreath on the door and perhaps a welcome mat in red. This year I offered no objection to anything she considered. I figured I owe her, and how many more years will I have her at home to do this with me. We walked out of Hope Depot with exterior white lights and tiny lighted Christmas trees to line a walkway.
Next stop a tree. It’s getting dark. But we are committed. Two possible stops: the YMCA where she volunteers or the Beacon House, an alcohol recovery program that we support. We chose the Beacon House.
We pull up. It’s dark and not in the best part of town.
“No Mom, they are scary.”
The “they” she is referring to are the men in the program. I know these guys and the program. The Beacon House has one of the highest rates of success for recovery programs in the nation. The program is solid, the men are solid. There is nothing to fear, but in her mind it looks different, and from that point of view, it’s scary.
I park and tell her I wouldn’t take her anywhere that wasn’t safe.
We walk out.
I say hello to the guys, and introduce her. She’s a little hesitant, but smiles.
There are three trees left and only one that would fit in our house. It isn’t the best looking tree. I know this is a problem for her, but she says nothing. I pay. We get in the car and I wait for her comments.
“It’s kinda lame,” she says.
“Yeah,” I respond.
“But that’s ok.”
On the way home she asks me about the Beacon House and the men who go through the program. How it works, why they are there, what happens to them after the program. A good conversation about something that matters.
We get home and she takes to constructing and cursing at the outside tree decorations we bought. I stay clear.
The spot for the tree is ready and in about 10 minutes it is delivered and up.
I pull out the lights. After about a minute, she is clearly irritated with my progress and takes them from me. In the not so distant past, I would have been insulted by her attitude. Now, I gladly surrender the lights to her.
Next the ornaments. She’s ferrets through the boxes, clearly displeased with their organization.
“Where are the good ornaments? I need the ones we put on first,” she tells me.
Finally, she finds the ornament she looking for and puts it on the tree. It’s the one that shows our whole nuclear family, all three kids. It is special. It is her first one, purchased for her first Christmas. This is the one that goes on first.
I’m banished to the kitchen.
Tree trimming is something that I cherish. This year, I cherished watching her. I watched as she took this tradition to her heart. It matters to her and this matters to me. It is our history. One I am honored to be a part of.
The tree may have started out a little lame, but now it is lovely. It’s ours.