So, someday too, you will go through my ornaments, and you will wonder why I kept this one, or what this fuzzy snowman with no arms is all about. You will think that there are enough popsicle sticks drug in glue and glitter on my tree, and you will see broken ornaments with your pictures in it, and then you will know.
You will see the brown ribbon winding around the tree, from a bow at the top, and you will not remember the time I had no ornaments, just a broken heart and a broken marriage, and you will not remember how the girls came to my house with boxes of ribbons and how we hung a wreath from a ceiling fan. And how I could barely talk because I had tears in my eyes, and they just put it all together for us.
The time your cousin lived with us, and how tonight I wished just for one minute that his time didn’t stop. That he would have another Christmas. That he wasn’t simply a picture watching over the decorating. And how that picture of your Christmas card with him would just have to wait.
There will be scratching of heads when you see the over-indulgence in brown and gold and red, and you will wonder just how someone like me could string clear beads around my tree. And jewels. Strands of jewels.
You will remember how tonight we argued about the correct placement of the star, and how you just lopped that limb off with a pair of scissors, and how I screeched, and how we scrounged around for another extension cord. You will remember that you didn’t really want to do the tree today, and how it was raining but I had to get this noble fir. You will be irritated remembering that I found another box in the attic, and how I had to have it right away.
There will be discussion about how our neighbor brought a ladder and a head lamp so that you and your brother could string up lights on the outside of our new house, and how you weren’t in the mood, but I made an enchilada casserole while you worked, and how later there were brownie sundaes, and how you didn’t even have to do the dishes.
You will never understand why I have to have eggnog with nutmeg in a pretty cup, and play Christmas carols. Especially since Thanksgiving just ended, and we have a whole month to go.
And just as you are wondering all of this, you will be sitting in your own houses with your own families and you will be untangling lights, and you will smile as you discuss tinsel vs. garland. And someone will pour some eggnog, and there will be a whiff of a memory of that time in your tiny little bungalow when you seemed to be the only kids from a divorced family.
And you will remember how tonight you didn’t have any time to decorate the tree…because after all, you had homework and Sunday night NFL football and essays to write. And how even after all of that, you kept decorating and singing Christmas Wrapping, and how even after the timer went off, you stayed.
There will be laughter and joy and a collection of ornaments, and you will have photos in slightly frayed frames with your child’s handwriting carefully written in glitter pens, and suddenly you will know. You will finally know. That your tree will always be made with love, and every year you will trot out memories, and you too will stand back each time and say, “This is the prettiest tree we’ve ever had.”