I had to laugh this morning, thinking about how much I've changed. I used to have to have everything just so for Christmas: the tree with its perfectly arranged white lights and sweet little ornaments, all meticulously placed. Every decoration was in place; fresh cut greens adorned the room and Christmas candles flickered softly. Christmas music played while I finished up hundreds of different types of intricately made and decorated Christmas cookies, my Christmas dinner planned down to the last detail.
So, Nick borrowed a stand from a friend, and surprised us with the tree when we got home. The kids were thrilled, and started decorating right away. The result was interesting, with some branches covered in multiple ornaments, while others were bare. Regardless, it was their masterpiece, and we praised them for it.
The following morning we woke up to yelling. During the night, the tree had fallen over, sending every last ornament from the lower half of the tree all over the floor. Amazingly, nothing broke, probably because I put away all of the fragile ornaments, with no plans to reintroduce them until all of the kids are in their 30's. Okay, maybe their 20's. Maybe.
The problem was that the kids had lost their enthusiasm for tree decorating, Nick was still sick, and I had joined him. Someone, I'm not sure who, picked up the ornaments and put them away, and Nick righted the tree. The pathetic thing is that no one ever did decorate the tree again, so we spent the season with a half-decorated tree gracing our living room.
The whole family ended up getting sick, and we passed various viruses back and for throughtout the month of December. We never took out any more decorations, got a wreath, sent Christmas cards, baked any cookies, or put up lights.
One day, one of the kids informed me that it was less than two weeks until Christmas. I figured I might want to start my shopping. This from someone who had always been fanatical about having all of my shopping completed by November, at the very latest...
Christmas arrived, and the presents were under the tree. No ribbons, no bows, but they were wrapped. I hadn't been able to remember where I'd put the stockings, so we filled some generic stockings for the kids. We took our annual Christmas morning picture of the kids, which I've yet to see. There were no matching pajamas, but there were big smiles. The kids laughed and played as they opened their presents. I hadn't made my special Christmas coffee cake, so we had a regular breakfast. I honestly can't remember what we had for Christmas dinner. All I know is that everyone was relaxed and happy, which is something I don't for a minute take for granted.
Even with the ugly tree, and without the cookies and decorations, everyone agreed that it was the best Christmas ever!