“To eke out the most happiness from an experience, anticipate it, savor it as it unfolds, express happiness, and recall a happy memory.” – The Happiness Project: One-Sentence Journal
From the stuffy old attic, patiently I wait every year for November. I know you will soon release me and display me in that prominent spot where you can see me from both living rooms and the front door. I love to represent all you are grateful for leading up to Thanksgiving.
When the girls were young my only autumn decorations were construction paper leaves with Bible verses of gratitude and the names of people and things you thanked God for. Simple, yet profound. Now that Allie and Shelby are practically grown, the handmade give way to real ornaments of fall leaves and pumpkins and footballs. The names of who and what you hold dear still sit in my branches. I’m prettier this way, but those names written in Allie’s childish handwriting still hold a special place.
Only I know that you really birthed the idea of the thankfulness tree from the desire to get your Christmas decorations up as soon as Thanksgiving is over. That retail man you married has more time to drag me out of storage at the beginning of November than on Black Friday weekend. And once you and yours have eaten the turkey and your family’s most excellent cornbread dressing, I really get my chance to shine.
I was made for Christmas. And I soak up every moment as you unbox the ornaments and other decorations. Family is so important to you, and I see traces of them all around. Ornaments your kids made and ones with their photographs on them. Things your late grandmother and talented sister crafted. Many vacation souvenirs hang in my branches (thank you for straightening them out and fluffing them, btw). NYC, Los Angeles, Disney World, Carlsbad Caverns and cruise ships come to mind.
My decorations represent decades of Christmases past (but not in a creepy ghost way). The oldest date back to the year you were born (we don’t have to share the exact number). Your mom lovingly recorded the year you received each ornament of your childhood and where it came from, then handed them to you after your wedding. I notice how the ones you made usually go down low in the back. But you never throw them away.
Now you give your kids a special ornament every year to commemorate something meaningful that happened. Allie has ones for volleyball teams, choir and theater performances, pets, Covid 19 lockdown and broken legs. Shelby’s tell the stories of her cheer team, graduation and all her favorite characters. Even Chuck usually gets one with either Star Wars characters, the convertible he bought one year, his beloved Dallas Cowboys or new job titles on them.
From where I sit, I get a great view of all the Nativity sets. They are you favorite decorations, but I don’t take it personally. The tender scenes remind you of the true meaning of this season. Seeing Jesus as a baby brings forth such joy for all He sacrificed to come into this world, live a sinless life and die to pay the price for the sins of all people. Salvation in such a tiny package. Joy to the world.
The beautifully wrapped packages you tuck around my bottom make me happy. They remind me of how much you love your friends and family and enjoy expressing it. But there’s another box – full of Christmas books. They go up into the attic with the decor every year and then you have a happy reunion with them – like old friends you haven’t seen in a while. These books are best read by my twinkle lights.
On Christmas morning, the gifts from Santa appear all around me and in the stockings hung behind me. Santa doesn’t wrap the presents he leaves at this house. And yes, at 16 and 21, he still comes for these girls, just as he did for you at your parents’ house until you married.
Recall a Happy Memory
I miss Christmas tree campouts. You spread sleeping bags around me and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows in the fireplace. I watched as you staged indoor snowball fights and ice skating (Who knew wadded sheets of paper and paper plates could be so fun?). Christmas movies and stories with Grinch punch were always a hit. And you often shared the joy by inviting cousins, friends or grandkids to join us. (Grinch punch is nothing but lime sherbet and ginger ale – made special by rimming clear glasses with green sugar. It goes great with your favorite version of the movie.)
Now that you – and the kids are older, no one wants to sleep on the hard floor under my branches. But kids at heart still talk about those campouts. And I’ll never forget them.
I know the tree that Jesus died on is a more important part of the redemption story than me, but you always make me look and feel so special. And oh the stories I could tell of how you all have remembered His birth. Thank you for allowing me be a part of such a fantastic celebration.
And now for this week’s featured post from the link up!
Fellow blogger Michele Morin and I are on the same page, which is why I enjoyed How to Find Christmas Joy in a World of Waiting. Check back here next week for my perspective on the same topic!
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