This year is the first year we have had our grandson for Christmas. He’s five, and full of wonder. We saved putting up the Christmas tree and decorating it until he came the week of Christmas. He and his Dad had it planned–they would do it together. So Dad climbed the stairs and searched under the eaves until he found a small three foot tree, a wonderland village, with a few other favorites, and had them ready.
Their combined efforts consisted of Dad muttering under his breath, “I hate Christmas” as he handed each ornament to his young son. Undaunted or not hearing the running discourse of his father’s reluctance to get into the Christmas spirit, he chose mostly all red balls that were slightly too big for such a small tree. They pretty much covered the front of the tree. I started to mention the bare spots on either side and the back of the tree, but was cut off by Dad saying, “This is my son’s creation. It might not be perfect, but it is his artistic design.”
“Yes, way to go, Dad!” I thought to myself. “You’re getting the right idea!” They continued on.
I praised myself for getting the plastic ornaments as a few bounced off the tile floor. I had purchased them some time ago when I observed my cat swatting at the glass ones on the bottom range of the old big tree. Works for kids also, I thought.
As they finished decorating the tree, Dad beat a retreat, declaring it was my job to help set up the village. He knew the little buildings were breakable ceramic, and didn’t want to face that challenge with a five-year-old who had the “I want to do it” gleam in his eyes and on his lips. So my grandson and I together carefully took each one out of its box and, set it on the fake snow on the same table where it sets each year for the past many years. The post office, bank, church, service station, mill, and bed and breakfast keep their same address each year. I have learned how to plug them all into a serge protector so I can flip the off switch each night to turn off all their lights at once.
At one time I had dedicated lights for the eves of the house and garlands and wreaths for the front porch, but I have been unable to climb the ladder these days, and it makes me sad. However, one day the grandson might continue the tradition.
We still drive down dark streets and look at decorated houses, oohing and ahhing at each, and an occasional wow for a really great one. Our grandson quickly had his favorites. I looked for my old favorites, and many of them were gone. I wondered if the owners had just grown tired of all the work, had to cut the budget, or were just not there anymore. I was saddened again. I had particularity liked the cowboy warming the seat of his pants in front of a campfire.
Christmas is coming in just a few days, and I’m busy cleaning house, buying last minute presents, baking cookies and planning the big meal (which is going to be lasagna this year; I had considered tamales). I will make sure to do many traditions and lots of baking with our grandson so he will have the memories to share with his children someday.
But somewhere in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, we will set down and read the story of baby Jesus being born as God’s gift to mankind. And we will take time for gratitude and the joy that is above all the earthly traditions we treasure.