So what’s the big deal? It was Christmas time, and there was a tree. Big Whoop. Well for me this tree was indeed a ‘Big Whoop’. This tree was the first “tree” Randy and I put up in our home together. In past years, we would have small, “ornament” trees. Basically 24” fake numbers, that we used to hang the growing collection of our kids homemade ornaments, and the one’s gifted to us from my mom.
Sure we had a tree whenever we visited my folks, but that was really considered the territory of my mom.
I grew up with a Christmas tree, my mother was IN LOVE with Christmas, she was not over- religious about it, she just loved all the accouterments, the food, the smells, the lights, the decorations, the presents!!! My mother was so incredibly generous, there would sometimes be so many presents that you could barely enter the room, was it excessive? Decadent? Too much? Probably, was it great? Definitely.
This year was the second Christmas without my mom, and the first year that we have spent it in our home. So the tree issue was going to come up. What to do? My sweet husband grew up on the complete other end of the spectrum. He had a conservative Jewish upbringing*, which was a deeply wonderful experience for him. (*Tree not included) He has been so wonderful over the years, indulging my ever growing collection of holiday paraphernalia; a mantle garland with twinkle lights, pine scented candles, twinkling lawn reindeer (I did put yarlmukes on their heads and call them “Santa’s Schlepper’s”...) , door wreath…etc. "what? It’s a celebration of winter?!" But a real tree? Negativo.
I wanted a tree this year, and bad. Not a shorty, not a Charlie Brown tree, but a taller than me, string of lights number. One that could have presents placed under it, not on the side of it. This was a delicate discussion, as much as the memory of a tree was tied to my mother, the memory of no tree was tied to the memory of my husbands dear father who had also passed away some years before. My husband moodily agreed, under the stipulation that it not be too tall. So I found the shortest tree I could find (that was taller than me, that was one of my conditions) And settled on a modest aprox 6' footer) I was in heaven, the kids were overjoyed, my husband, mildly annoyed.
And then came the emotion. I felt guilty about it. So guilty in fact that when my oldest daughter joyfully wanted to show her Nanna the tree on FaceTime, a yelled at her not to. She burst into tears and ran off to her room. Leaving me with a stunned, silent, digital Nanna, to which I needed to explain the whole thing.
I said I was so sorry, "I know they did not have a tree growing up...etc." to which she graciously responded; "Why would I be upset that you have a tree? You grew up with one, Mike is coming, he's always had one, your mom had one" The relief I felt was so powerful, my husbands Jewish mother told me it was ok!!! Honey, I love you, I respect you, you are my husband, what you say means the world to me. But in this moment, I believe your mom was the one I needed to listen to. I think her words helped him feel better about it too, in fact I am sure they did. Thanks Nanna.
(PS The damn tree is too small....)