I was feeling pretty desperate to have some holiday cheer this year. I was missing the myriad of family traditions I have enjoyed throughout my life. Mom and I shopping for inexpensive gift bags and wrapping paper in all the little crappy discount stores we can find. Standing outside in the cold with Dad as he hangs the outdoor lights. Helping Mom or Dad lug the tree up from the basement amid much grunting and occasional profanity. Untangling boxes of lights, searching for ornaments, etc. I was anxious to start this year out with new traditions, ones that would somehow replace the old ones.
Here’s the tricky thing about traditions, you should never, never, try and create them. Whenever you do, they fall apart. For two weeks we have been planning on taking Monkey to a lovely tree place and getting our tree. I imagined a lovely cold winter’s day with the three of us sipping hot apple cider and strolling through row after row of trees until we found the perfect one. It would be tall, even, and surrounded by a halo of sunlight. Angels would sing as the tree emerged from the others surrounding it. Obviously, my expectations were a little high.
This morning we began our new tradition with breakfast at a nice new diner we found by my office. It was a pleasant meal, with yummy food and good conversation, but like most adult oriented events, Monkey got a little squirrelly in the end. We stopped by the neighboring dollar store, in an attempt to share in Mom’s and my christmas tradition, and found amazing deals on gift bags (sorry Mom, these blow to hell any deals we have ever found before!). However, the store held more allure than it should have and sucked us in for longer than we expected. Monkey had a bad case of the “gimmes” and the gift bag choosing was punctuated by many “oh my god you have to see this!” and “can I have this” comments. Even Lee was sucked in to the power of a store labeled “Everything 99 cents or less” and picked out some storage stuff for the basement and some Vonage Orange dishtowels. (It was the air Mom, you know what that canned air can do to a person!)
Finally, we were on our way to the tree event!! Of course, we had to stop at Lowe’s because my co-worker had suggested we get our tree there, and while there we had to buy stuff to repair the fence out back. Sigh.
Finally, we really were on our way to picking out our tree. We went to this little place called Dearborn Farms. They had rows of trees, live trees, poinsettia’s, and a grocery store. Lee commented that we were trying to buy our tree at Marczyk’s, a Denver store known for it’s good food, and exorbitant prices. Monkey wanted every single tree we saw. Here she is with one of the smallest she wanted to get…
We were trying to decide between a live tree, that might end up dead after we inadvertently neglected it for a while, or an already dead tree. This was the beginning of the end for our new family tradition. Before I knew it we were standing in the freezing cold, Monkey was madly racing around with a balloon, Lee and I were arguing over whether or not we should get a tree, and I was beginning to feel the beautiful dream of our new tradition slipping away. Hell, it was speeding away in a tacky gas-guzzling Hummer. The only scrap of the dream left was the cup of hot apple cider clutched tightly in my freezing wind-chapped hand.
We gave up on the tree, we came home, and I cried about all the christmas traditions I am missing this year.
Then I lugged down into the basement and unearthed last year’s fake tree. There was some cursing. I found the ornaments. Lee put up a fence. Then Lee dragged the tree out of the basement.I baked fresh cinnamon rolls and proceeded to drop their freshly frosted stickiness all over the kitchen floor. I made cinnamon toast and apple cider tea and we hooked up the lights.
We hung ornaments and giggled about the slightly off center nature of our tree. Monkey started taking pictures when she wearied of hanging ornaments.
We took some of Monkey’s tiny ornaments and attached bows to them. We used the rest of the bows to make the tree look a little old fashioned. We had a great time decorating our little, crooked, plastic tree. When we were finished with all the ornaments, it was time for Monkey to place the star of the top of the tree. Of course, the star is made of heavy copper metal, and weighs a ton, and the top is very weak, so we had to engineer the top in such a way that it could hold the star. After a little while, we managed to get it to stay.
Finally we had a lovely tree, and a happy family tradition complete with cursing, inconvenience, laughter and love. My lesson, don’t try and replace old family traditions with manufactured ones. If you’re lucky, you can stumble across new traditions, but the best ones aren’t created, they just naturally occur.
Love to all my old traditions! I miss you!