Today is the day we put up the Christmas tree. If you follow me on Google plus you may have seen the conversation where the Hunky said that Sunday was too early to put the tree up, but he did take the time to get the tree down from the attic yesterday. To be completely fair to the Hunky, last year when I found out that the Chinese restaurant that I identified very strongly with my Dad had closed down ten days before Thanksgiving, and I was completely overwhelmed with a need to put up the Christmas tree (I also have so many great memories of my Dad wrapped up with Christmas), he never said a word of complaint. He isn't anti-Christmas at all, but he believes in everything happening in it's proper place and order. I understand that and am much the same, with the caveat that I feel like any time is a good time for a Christmas carol or two, and don't even get me started on Christmas lights. I would swim in them if I could.
It shouldn't surprise me that my girls still adore putting up the tree, since I still love it, but every year I wonder if this is the year that it loses some of its childlike magic. After all, two of the three are about to turn their year over to a new one. Thirteen and fourteen. I can't even imagine how in the world we got to this age. I've made the "no more birthdays" edict more times than I can remember. This one hurts bone deep for some reason. Gretchen Rubin is correct, "The days are long, but the years are short."
I was so looking forward to today, and all at once the weather turned very cold, and the clouds were dark and low so that the tree lights shown brightly even at noon. The girls wanted to be hands-on for every part of the process. We hauled the boxes and unpacked the pieces. We assembled the parts, unwound the electrical cords, fluffed the branches. At last it was time once again to get out the ornaments. I love my ornaments. We do have plenty of shiny, glittery balls and bobbles, but we also have ornaments that hung on my Grandmother's tree and that my Mom painted. Things that I made, that my Dad bought, that my husband had when he was young. Each year it's like unwrapping layers of memories all over again. We had barely started when there was knock on the door and in came the over-the-top dose of joy in the form of our beloved five-year-old and two-year-old friends. Suddenly, the room wasn't just filled with nostalgia and silliness, but everything was infused with the wonder and enthusiasm that only the very young can muster. But the magic of children is never entirely contained, and what was merely fun afternoon for my own children became all at once, as wonderful and wide-eyed as it was a decade past. And as I am not the full time parent of littles, the unadulterated joy and enthusiasm of the very young isn't tiring at all, it is simply, purely beautiful.
I've felt a little melancholy of late, but today, well, today began as something special and then became a gift. For just an hour starfish hands clapped and grasped, awed voices whispered, "Look how shiny this one is!" It was suddenly mandatory that everyone sing Rudolph at the top of their lungs while making sure forty-seven ornaments weren't hung on one small branch.
We unwrapped a little magic today, a sweet gift on a wintry cold afternoon.