I fully support celebrating one holiday at a time. Until the turkey is put away and the door closes behind the last family member, it is not Christmastime. However once Friday rolls around, put up the lights, get a tree, and go nuts.
On the first or second weekend in December (depending on the last time it’s rained), my parents hunt for a tree. I remember as a kid sitting in the back of our van reading a book (Boxcar Children or Big Sister Little Sister, for instance) while next to my fidgeting brother and they would be tying the tree to the roof. We would come home, let it hang out under the carport for the night, and bring the sucker in once it’d dried off and been shaken of any loose needles.
I wouldn’t say we are a very cultural family, but we definitely have our traditions. Once the tree was up and ready, my mom would put on the German Christmas record, spike her eggnog, give us some cocoa, and we’d begin decorating the tree.
She would always have the heavy, delicate, and breakable ornaments separated from the ones my brother and I would put up, and every year I couldn’t wait to find my little Christmas friend in our overflowing bag of tissue paper-wrapped trinkets.
Tucked sweetly away in a walnut shell and bundled with a blanket, my sweet little guy is my favorite of our over two hundred ornaments. Each year I find the perfect cozy space nestled within the branches and place him next to one of the soft yellow lights. When I was small, I didn’t like the dark and I suppose I put him near what to me looked like a nightlight; this way he wouldn’t be alone. It’s something I do every year, and I still get excited when I unfold faded and wrinkled tissue paper and there he is.
My mom has a collection of vintage Christmas decorations that she alternates every year. I have my favorites, one of which being the pair of reindeer my grandfather brought home when he worked at Sears sixty-five years ago. It’s always comforting to come home during this time of year to see the house looking like this. Every piece, as worn and aged as they may be, has forged some sort of memory in me.