Sometimes there are moments with the kids where I purposely don’t take pictures, where I want to just be present, and not be behind the camera. Decorating the tree is one of those times. I have no pictures of it. Ever. Not one. Decorating the tree is a sacred event. Nothing interrupts it.
Each of our kids has a small Christmas tree in their room. It is decorated entirely with ornaments they made. Then, there is the ‘Family Tree’. Our Family Tree has an ornament for every year that FPD and I have been a couple. Yes, there are ornaments with ‘1995’ written on them, and yes, the kids marvel at that. Each ornament is a symbol. There are orange kitten and sweet beagle ornaments for the pets we loved and lost. There is a little house for the year we moved into our new home. There is an ornament to represent babies, older children, and all the countries they came to us from. After all these ornaments, each child is given one for each year they have been in our family. The idea is that someday they will take these ornaments with them, memories from their childhood that they will carry into their adult lives.
We don’t go back and try to re-create the past, so some children have only one, two or three ornaments in their box even when they’re five, seven or even 12-years-old. I always treat this with sensitivity, but matter-of-factly. You had Christmases before us. I am so sorry someone didn’t celebrate those with you quite the way we do here. For some of you though, they were celebrated the best way your birth family could. I won’t try to erase that. This year, Mighty opened his box and pulled out his one ornament, the one he had been given last year, on his first Christmas with us. I watched him as he hung it on the tree and then sat down to watch everyone else hang theirs. He was sad. Sometimes the holidays are hard. Before I could even sit down next to him, pull him into my lap, or offer him one of ‘my’ ornaments to hang, Middle-Middle saw him.
“Hey Mighty, I have too many ornaments. Can you help me?” He pretended he wasn’t into this decorating thing, but I know my sweet boy, he loves hanging his ornaments.
He loves his brother more.
We may not re-create the past around here, but we make a huge deal about moving forward and healing from it, because really, that’s all we can do. One foot in front of the other, one Christmas at a time, making new memories, and buying back a little of the pain that past ones may have brought.
When all the ornaments were hung, and the tree was practically listing from the weight of all of it, we sat there together. One child turned on Christmas music, one dimmed the lights, one spun in circles in the middle of the room absolutely delighted by the twinkling and sparkling of it all, her first Christmas, and never the wiser that she doesn’t have any ornaments quite yet. She’s just happy to be in the middle of all of it, home, with her family, in front of her family tree.
–FullPlateMom, who is making the most of the season.