Remember when you were little, and there's that one thing from Christmas, or Hanukkah, or whatever winter holiday you celebrate that really stands out in your mind as the most funny, or heartbreaking, or heartwarming? I think everybody has a memory like that. I've got several. Like the year my dad left and my 10-year-old brother put up all the Christmas lights by himself. My mother was so touched--at least I thought she was touched, but it was probably more a mixture of pride in her resourceful son, guilt in her divorce decision leaving us without a "Christmas light hanger," and sadness at her first Christmas as a single parent. Or the year my brother, sister and I stayed up all night--I mean literally all night--waiting for Christmas morning. We piled into my room with blankets and stories; we were all teenagers at the time. We still talk about it. Every holiday season, I call my sister and say, "Hey, remember this song from that album that we listened to every Christmas? Remember the one with the red cover?"
As my own kids are now the age when Christmas memories are being formed, I wonder what they'll remember when they get older. Will in be this year, when Los Angeles was deluged with rain storms of epic proportions that have kept us inside for days? They've moved from watching Pokemon on TV, to playing Pokemon on the DS, to playing Pokemon cards in T1's room. (Seriously, is Pokemon really that compelling?) Honestly, I think they're completely loving this unstructured time just to be kids without all the school, homework, activities, and playdates. Or will it be decorating the tree and uncovering the beauty of ornaments that slip their minds as the months between Christmases pass?
This was the first year that I think they'll remember decorating the tree. I decided to let T1 put on the tree topper. He is told so much that he needs to be careful, keep his hands to himself, play nicely and gently. I thought I'd give him a special task that would usually be bestowed upon a family member with excellent dexterity and calm, two things T1 doesn't really have mastery over yet. My thinking was, let him have something that calls upon his burgeoning maturity and bridges him from little kid to big kid. Maybe I thought too soon.
Yes, the tree topper broke, and then all hell broke loose. I got upset with DG, who was upset because he had a feeling that T1 couldn't do it, and then T1 went crying out of the room and hid because I yelled. Definitely a Christmas memory I'm not proud of, but here it is, for all of you--familly foibles and all. Off to Stat's we went to get another tree topper. And, Christmas memory restored.
Maybe it would have been better if we waited a year for this. Maybe he would have been just that much bigger and could reach the tree top better. Maybe we would pick a tree without a knot sticking out that would allow the topper to slip right over the top. Maybe, who knows. But this is the memory we have. This is the one I'll remember and I'm sure he'll remember and we'll laugh, "Remember that year we broke the tree topper? Hahahahaha"
It reminds me of that scene at the end of A Christmas Story. Ralphie's family Christmas dinner is ruined by an unfortunate incident with some neighborhood dogs and the Christmas ham. They go to a Chinese restaurant and while the waiters are singing Christmas carols, food is brought to their table. The camera zooms in and they're smiling, laughing, and enjoying themselves. The voice over describes the memory and you can see that this is the Christmas memory that they'll remember, not the missed ham. I think of our tree topper the same way. Every year, when I unwrap it, I'll remember the successful adornment and think about how T1 grew up a little that year.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. May the memories you make this year be joyous ones, and if they're not, I hope there's at least some humor.