For someone who has written extensively about Christmas Magic, this may sound like an odd question. But now that Thanksgiving is over and in spite of how the retail industry has repeatedly tried to get our attention for gift buying, now is the time to focus on the upcoming Christmas holiday. And what better visible sign of Christmas than a festively decorated tree in our home?
Every year since we became newlyweds just three days before Christmas, my wife and I have put up a Christmas tree in our home. From the early days of getting a freshly cut live tree to the fourth or so artificial tree, this has been a big family tradition for us.
And some years we even had more than one tree up.
For me, every year after Thanksgiving, I always looked forward to getting out the Christmas ornaments to decorate a brightly lit tree since we never put up a Christmas tree before Thanksgiving. This year, I did see someone on my drive home from work that obviously wanted to get a head start by putting up their tree just days after Halloween. But I would make an exception for a special occasion like last year when I visited my daughter before Thanksgiving and helped her decorate their tree.
Choosing just the right spot for those special ornaments that have been in our family for years is always one of my favorite tasks. And once the ornaments are on, sitting down on the couch with just the tree lights on and listening to Christmas music is one of my special pleasures of the season.
But getting to this pleasure, I would be lying if I didn’t say first putting the lights on the tree is a big pain. Because I don’t like for the wires to show, I meticulously weave the strands in and out of the branches to achieve just that perfect look.
This onerous task was thankfully eliminated last year when we downsized to a smaller tree that was pre-lit and moved it to a new location in our home.
So if that painstaking task has been eliminated, why do I ponder this question? Well this will be the first year in a very, very long time that we will not be home at Christmas. There won’t be any waking up early on Christmas morning and opening gifts in front of our tree next to a warming fire—we’ll be out of town for just the second time in 35 years of marriage! The first time was when we were on our honeymoon and we had this little tree in our hotel room.
We started our family just a couple years after we got married. And when we had kids, it changed how we celebrated Christmas. After our kids moved out of the house and started their own families, it changed again but we always were home for Christmas and always put up a tree. Now that we are grandparents, it has changed again.
Our grandson, being only 4 months old, is not at a good age to make a 2000-mile trek—either by plane or car—across the country. So instead, we are going to visit him and his parents.
No doubt we will have a wonderful Christmas celebration out in California. Our oldest son and his wife will also be able to join us. And for someone like me who hates cold weather, how can I complain of the possibility of 70-degree weather on Christmas day? So knowing that our Christmas celebration will be out of town, do I put up a tree at home to enjoy until we leave knowing that we will not be sitting next to it on its special day.
Well, my wife even asked me this question just two weeks before Thanksgiving. I know my own mom pondered this same question at one point when she knew they would not be home celebrating Christmas. I can’t remember how she answered this question. She might have put up a very small tree just to have a tree in the house.
As for me, even though I have been asking myself this question long before Halloween, I know what I will do. I will put up a tree and decorate it just like normal. Because Christmas isn’t just the celebration on Christmas day, it’s all the magical anticipation leading up to Christmas day as well. And what better way to anticipate the joy of Christmas than to see a beautiful tree each time you walk through a room? So now my question is not will I put up a tree but what I am waiting for? Let’s get the boxes down out of the attic and get busy!