Although Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, I have always loved Christmas. Not just the presents, but the decorations and the music and the lights and the traditions. All of it. I loved getting to stay up late when I was little to watch Christmas movies. I loved candlelight service at church, when I got to hold a real, lit candle. I loved playing with my sisters and moving around the figurines of the old nativity set my parents had. I loved lying on the floor under the Christmas tree and looking up at the lights and the ornaments. And, of course, I loved the anticipation of Christmas morning.
Wednesday we had a family movie night and watched Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer. When the song "Silver and Gold" came on, Ryan asked me if we ever put tinsel on our tree growing up. My parents never had tinsel, but it reminded me of a memory I hadn't thought about in a long time: trimming the tree with my sisters at our grandparents' house.
We spent a lot of time at their house growing up, as my mother often helped my grandpa (or "Pap" as all the grand-kids called him) care for my grandma. Even when Mom wasn't there helping, my sisters and I slept over regularly, sharing the pull-out bed of the hideous orange and yellow floral sofa. We would wear Pap's t-shirts as nightgowns and he would sing to us old hymns like "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder" and "Old Rugged Cross" as he tucked us in.
It was always fun to stay over, but we especially looked forward to December when we got to help decorate their tree. We would follow him down the narrow steps to the basement, and help gather the pieces of the world's first artificial tree to drag back up the stairs. Okay, so it wasn't the actual first artificial tree, but probably close to it. It smelled a little musty from its home in the basement and you could see the twisted, metal wire of the pieces showing between the matted "needles." Once assembled, it had a strange, alien quality, with the unwieldy branches curling up at strange angles.
None of that mattered to us. We loved digging through the ornament boxes and hanging up the strange shaped glass Santa faces or birds with colorful feathers. Best of all, we were allowed to put colored lights on it. But not just colored lights. The ones that blinked! It was only white lights and sentimental ornaments at our house, so this was quite a treat. And they let us use tinsel. I think more of it probably ended up on the floor and in our hair and static-clinging to our clothes than where it actually belonged, but we loved playing with it and adding it to the tree. How pretty it looked reflecting the colored lights!
Regardless of how tacky this all seems to me as I'm writing it, in my mind's eye I can still see how beautiful and magical it was to us at the time. I loved driving up to their house and seeing that tree blinking in the front window. I'm sure we loved rearranging the ornaments every time we went over. But my favorite part was snuggling up on the couch bed with my sisters and falling asleep in that tree's beautiful glow.
Merry Christmas everyone. I hope your celebrations are full of love and laughter and cherished memories.