Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I grew up loving everything Christmas. For sure, we knew Santa was a fairy tale, but he was a FUN fairy tale. Budgets were tight with five kids in the house, but it just meant we had to improvise a little more. Like making Christmas trees from branches, or pushing our Christmas date out a little so we could get our gifts and stocking stuffers 50% off at the after-Christmas sales. Christmas was family, and Christmas was beautiful.
My husband grew up on the other side of the globe. Christmases were spent at the beach - that southern hemisphere thing - and it is just NOT the same! He has bad memories of childhood Christmas celebrations. Being somewhat anti-traditionalist, he sees no value in doing things just because we've always done them that way. Not to mention that much of Christmas, even the date, has pagan origins. And that kids confuse Santa and God, and when they find out Santa isn't real, they think God isn't real, either. It's hard to argue with.
So, in 15 years of marriage, we've never had a real Christmas tree. I bought a tiny fake tree that I'd set up in a little corner somewhere, but without anyone else to appreciate it, I just never saw the point in doing more.
This is Esmé's third Christmas. The first two were spent in South Africa with the in-laws (at the beach), where we had no tree, and having a tree wasn't my decision to make. I did make a Happy Birthday cake for Christmas Eve, and we read the nativity story and played with a crocheted nativity set, and exchanged a few gifts, and had family and friends over for a nice meal, but that was it.
So what do we do this year, Esmé's first in the northern hemisphere?
I dug out that tiny tree and dusted it off. I let Esmé drown it in tinsel. And I printed out a bunch of Jesse tree ornaments (celebrating Christ from the creation of the world through to His coming) and put them in ornament frames.
Each day I try to put a wrapped book under the tree. (I've been known to wrap library books...) Esmé colors a page that matches the ornament while I read a related devotional. Then we hang up the ornament.
While it doesn't compare to the Gift of the Magi - Jim with his combs and Della with her watch chain - my husband and I have given each other the gift of compromise.
It is a bittersweet gift. I look at the glistening but naked little tree and wish for fragrant-smelling branches loading with meaningful ornaments that can be passed down to future generations. He looks at the tree and wishes it would disappear, along with all the tinsel that lands up on the floor and everywhere else. Neither of us has what we want.
What will Esmé's memories be? I don't know - but I do hope our gift will point her to Christ, some way, somehow.
In the meantime, here are some shots little miss Esmé took of the tree when she snitched my camera recently. It may not be pink and flashing, but I do think she's finding some beauty in that little tree!