Three summers ago now the kids and I planted fruit trees. They chose which fruit tree they wanted, I purchased said trees and then as a family we planted those trees. Justin chose the Apple Tree while Annie preferred to have the stately Pear Tree. Our Pear Tree has had a lot of trouble and has had some close calls.
Each Spring since the planting, it manages somehow to bloom and survive in a most hostile environment. Several times I wasn't sure if the poor sapling was going to endure, but surprisingly she rebounds with great vigor.
Each year it seems more difficult to celebrate the Christmas season. Annie recently asked our friend Jesse, if he believed in Santa Clause. Jesse replied, "Of course I do." To which my Annie raised a rhetorical eyebrow.
Later, Jesse confided in me that he'd been bothered not just by Annie's question, but by the tone of it. Why did she sound so harsh and jaded?
I know why. Christmas, for my ex hubby wasn't a fun time of the year. His parents, both alcoholics, spent the holiday drunk leaving he and his siblings the task of caring for them. Instead of warm fuzzy happy holiday memories, his memories were of cleaning up vomit, helping elders to bed and pretty much fending for oneself.
After finding out his aversion for Christmas, I made it my mission in our marriage to turn Christmas into a most enjoyable time of the year. I decorated the entire house, inside and out. I spent a lot of time picking out just the right gifts. Our Christmas tree was decorated to perfection, with strung popcorn and homemade children ornaments. The kids and I baked tons of holiday cookies for Santa, made rice crispy wreaths and left baby carrots for Santa's reindeer.
Several days before Christmas, I always took the kids to see the houses decorated so pretty with lights and garland. Snowball fights, sledding and hot chocolate were the norm for our home during the holidays. It was a tireless endeavor and one that I enjoyed partaking in, until our Christmas was stolen.
When my ex hubby moved back to Denver, leaving the kids and I behind, we spent that Christmas for the first time away from home. In somebody else's house, without the usual hub dub that surrounded us. The next year was even worse, we spent Christmas in a hotel in New Mexico. No Christmas tree, lights, presents from Santa, holiday cookies or music...just two double beds and a TV.
I suppose that I should have made the best of it, that I should have brought the spirit of Christmas to that hotel room, but I didn't. I was too tired and worn out from the years that I couldn't resist any longer and had all those memories practically wiped out in one fatal swoop.
As I explained this to Jesse, he listened quietly and patiently until I was done, and then he said, "You're pathetic." Shocked, I closed my mouth and listened to him...the Magic of Christmas is in the belief.
I pondered on that for a moment and then it hit me. These ideas came to me about Christmas. Christmas is the belief that giving is better than receiving. The belief that you can make someone unhappy; completely happy on this day. The belief that nations in the middle of a war can take a moment from the fighting and remember that we're human and that life is worth protecting and cherishing. That with all our differences there exists a commonality amongst us.
Whatever it is you want to call it, whether it be a simple Season's Greetings, Happy Holidays or the old traditional Merry Christmas, it's nice to believe that there's still some magic in that old top hot...because when you put it on, it makes you want to sing and dance around. Here's my wish for you darlin'...don't be too cynical, and accept that kiss from under the mistletoe.