For many years my girls and I have done ‘our’ thing… just the way we always have- minus all the missing. We never added a person or a new piece to our amazing and little routine. We had only lost them throughout time. What started many years ago with friends, then just us… and in recent years less a Madeline and a Matthew. We always did it though… cutting a tree and pulling it out of the woods, figuring out how to get the tree into my Jeep and then down the hill for hot cocoa and French fries. I would get the tree situated and try very hard not to swear too much as I got it even with only my eyes and two girls… then I would string the lights, pushing them into the tree so it glows from within. The ribbon goes on next and then red pearls on the ends of the limbs. Our favorite part is sitting together and going through the Hallmark ornaments that each girl received every year. In Matthew’s family his parents bought a Hallmark ornament every year for them. I thought that was a great tradition to carry and we still do this. I write on the inside of the lid every year a little about each of the girls and what they love that year. We sit together and look at all of the ornaments and read the notes. It is especially hard to read Madeline’s… but it is beautiful to remember how she loved The Princess and the Frog and it was her first movie ever. Amelia loved her fairies and Tinkerbell, Lucy planes and Curious George. It’s our own beautiful and broken tradition.
Sometimes ‘our’ thing doesn’t feel like enough anymore. It isn’t a bad thing though, it is a reminder that is it a time for adding to ‘our’ thing. All of these years of subtracting, this year I felt brave enough to add some new to ‘our’ thing. It is scary to change, sometimes I embrace it and sometimes I avoid it- but this year I let my heart open up ‘our’ thing. This year invited Rick and his boys (the boys couldn’t come, and we missed them) and my sister and niece. They followed me up the windy and steep roads to go the same field the Musto Tree always comes from. We hiked out in the mud to find our perfect tree- and Hayle’s special tree. It was just right. Rick helped the girls cut our tree and put it to his truck. The girls and I treated them to hot cocoa and French fries. We let them enjoy some of ‘our’ thing.
The girls and I read those notes and sat together this week. We laughed and cried. Rick took care of my lights on my tree. It felt good to give some of the jobs to someone who has started been refilling my life with some of the missing. The tree is now decorated and perfect, albeit a little short. In my mad rush to get my house in order and clean and Christmasy I accidentally cut the tree really short. It is as tall as I am, and makes my short friends look tall. It is a good tree with a good story- the best kind.
After a week of cleaning, working, a big ‘best day ever’ and the normal crazy of my girls it was my favorite tradition with my carriers, my light. My ornament exchange is a lot of work, making 14 homemade ornaments and dedicating a night to each other. I love those ladies, the ones who could make it and the ones who couldn’t. They are some of the best gifts live has gifted me. We sit in a circle in my tiny living room, with my very short tree… we take turns distributing our ornaments and a bit of sharing time. The rule is to share our year, to get a little ‘naked’ and vulnerable together in a safe room and leave more connected. It is amazing and beautiful.
So today is National Dip Day, well not national but in my house, next to my tree it is. I eat left over dip and watch movies all day. While the world moves around and goes about their Saturday I sit and eat dip and watch movies. I invited Rick for a bit of Dip Day and he feels that it should be a National Holiday as well. Hummus, pita chips, white pizza dip and left over raviolis = heaven (well almost). So today I sit… and catch up on slow down.
Maybe, just maybe, additions are an amazing gift. I am grateful for all the gifts every.single.day. I love my crazy and busy and broken life, it was made just for me. I love my girls and the fact that they love celebrating Jesus’ Birthday… I always do too. I bet Jesus’ birthday in heaven rocks… Madeline, I am positive, enjoys it BIG.
Traditions and additions… life this year. I wonder what life next year will offer us. For today I sit happy and content and loved… I sit missing my lovely. I sooooo know that she is right here with me watching Love Actually (don’t worry I told her not to watch at certain parts). She sits with me through my favorite part… that love actually is all around us.