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Our Tree

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Our first was small, adorned with only the small red bows that the store had already tied to its tiny branches. We set on our hand-me-down coffee table and opened stockings on Christmas morning, cross-legged on the floor.

Lights and ornaments came. Trees, life-sized ones, came too. But I chose colors and ornaments that looked just-so. This wasn’t my mother’s big-rainbow-bulbed, fat Santa waving from his sled, funky 1970’s mouse munching on what appears to be an LSD inspired watermelon slice, tacky Baby’s first Christmas balls, tree. This was my tree. Simple. Elegant. Small white lights, warm, cranberry and gold and silver tones.

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This year, while my children rushed to assault every low hanging branch with however many ornaments they could fit in their fists, I reached to the top and hung this. The smudged oval caught my eye. Our First Christmas 2002. 

Hey. Look at that. Ten Christmases. Ten trees. And by the miles I feel on my heart, at least ten thousand memories.

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Murano glass, our honeymoon souvenir from Venice.

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The hideous Baby’s First ornament that I felt compelled to buy in the post-Christmas sales after Alex’s 12/23 arrival. (It is the first ornament he hangs each year. Dead center. Ever. Year.)

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And then there were two.

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And so began the slipping away of the elegant, twinkling lights with muted, warm tones and carefully placed ornaments.

So began the collecting.

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One of two”look how small our fingers were” ornaments (complete with poems) from Alex’s kindergarten and first grade classes. (Looking forward to Lila’s addition this year.)

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I can’t blame it all on school. One lean year, long days at home with two children under four, led to these cardboard and finger paint creations.

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And church. Sunday School ornaments, some of my favorites to replace my boring one-color balls.

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Of course, the simple decorations are still around. This year, Evaline gathered them into her shirt and charged full force to, literally, dump them down into the bottom branches.

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See, I’m still here.

Pushed along sometimes. Crowded by what feels like a hundred small elbows crawling over me at three AM and a hundred uncovered coughs (just as I lean in to zipper a coat or tie a shoe), but I am still here.

I am just not who or what or where I thought I would be, once upon a time.

Sort of like this beautiful, twinkling mess of a tree across from me. It’s not what I envision each year, and it’s not Pinterest worthy on any level, but it’s ten years of building a marriage and growing a family. It’s ten years of small, sweet earmarks.

Remember when? Remember how?

Remember, us?

And I do.


  1. Blenda

    Awww, everything you post is Pinterest-worthy in my book, especially sentimental images of Christmas trees overflowing with well-loved trinkets and baubles!!! (It’s so funny, the older I get the more often I think about how much our mothers must watch us and just smile, knowing the lessons we’ll figure out for ourselves in time – “Sure, enjoy your “perfect” color-coordinated life for now, but soon you’ll be so happy for the mix-matched muddled rainbow life your children paint for you each day….”)

    • It IS such a tough time of year for a birthday. On the one hand, I loved being pregnant during the advent season, but on the other hand…this poor boy, getting heaped in with Christmas.

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