When I was very young, decorating for Christmas was a big family event. My mom and dad and I would get all the decorations out and have something for every room in the house. There were bows and ribbons, wreathes and ornaments and stockings. It was crazy, but we had a ton of stuff, so decorating took the better part of a day.
But as my parent’s relationship began to decline, my dad decided not to join in the decorating anymore. My mom and I would soldier on, hanging lights and ribbons and ornaments while he sat in the recliner, occasionally commenting or, more often, seeming to ignore the proceedings.
Then, growing discouraged over the years, my mom stopped decorating as well. Even after my parents got divorced, I had to haul all of the decorations in (around half a dozen of those giant Rubbermaid containers; probably more than half a dozen, actually) and put them up myself. In retrospect, I wonder why I never flat-out refused–I guess that obeying parents was pretty well ingrained in me–but I hated doing it. It was so much work, and I didn’t even care anymore. It felt like we were trying to dress up an ugly scar, cover it with incense and tinsel to make all the rest of the anger and bitterness go away.
And of course, it didn’t work. So for over a decade, I’ve rather disliked Christmas and everything it came to represent. More work, more commercialism, more fighting over my affection, more guilt trips and frustration. Throughout most of college, I spent Christmas alone, or near enough. Maybe a day or two with each of my parents for the first few years. Then I met April.
I was still pretty Bah Humbug last year, not really wanting to decorate and not appreciating much her attempts to do so. I really didn’t like my apartment much, and we were really poor. But this year, now that we have our own house and can afford some of these things… I’ve been really excited. I have really enjoyed buying the decorations and putting them up, and I like having them. It’s been wonderful.
Today we got our first tree together, and we opted to go with a real tree rather than a fake one. It didn’t really have anything to do with my family having always had a fake tree… actually, our plan was to have it on the front porch. But when we got to the tree place, it was really windy outside and it occurred to us that a tree on the front porch, as cool as that would be, would probably blow over a lot and cause all kinds of problems. So now it’s in our living room.
This isn’t our first Christmas together (actually, it’s our third!), but it feels almost like a new beginning. It’s the beginning of the holidays becoming a pleasant and positive time again. It’s the beginning of those memories finally healing some. It’s the beginning of a wonderful Christmas.