My dad was an alcoholic and Christmas was his favorite time of the year to tear up the house, a futile attempt to destroy my mother’s Christmas spirit.
He never succeeded with her, but he made me dread Christmas.
When I was a young mother, I didn’t really celebrate Christmas, not until the kids were toddlers and even then, I just went through the motions for them.
When I was twenty-seven, I got remarried to a man who made a big deal of Christmas.
Until our first Christmas together, I had never put up more than a 2′ ceramic tree, and only because my mom had special ordered it for me.
Our first year together, we put up a 6′ tree with all the trimmings and we surrounded it with presents.
The kids were so excited on Christmas morning and it was contagious.
From that point on, I grew to love Christmas and all that it meant to the kids.
My mom was so proud of me for overcoming my childhood Christmas phobias and soon, I had enough homemade decorations from my mother to cover an entire tree.
I used to love to send her pictures of the tree decorated with her ornaments.
I put up big trees until my youngest moved out, and then I still put up trees, just not as large.
As my kids had kids of their own, I split Mom’s decorations between them and I bought new decorations for me.
Every year, I would do a different theme, bouncing between girly and guy.
All miniature dolls and fairies one year and all Harley-Davidson decorations another year. Pink trees, white trees, purple trees, gold and green. Even a Palm tree one year.
Then, my mom, Grace, died in 2009.
I had a hard time again, but my sister, Cherie, talked me into putting up a tree just for my mom and she sent me butterflies and fairies to decorate it.
That was my first Christmas for Grace.
The next year, it. became a tradition, one tree for Mom, one for me.
Three years ago, my husband and I split up and although I put up a small tree for Mom, I didn’t really celebrate Christmas.
We got back together after seven months and we had two more nice Christmases together, but we separated again this fall, and now here I am, my second Christmas without him in thirty-eight years.
I really didn’t know how I was going to get through it.
I decided the first thing I needed to do was to buy a Christmas tree in a color I had never had before.
I resisted the urge to buy blue for a Blue Christmas, and before I could change my mind, I ordered a turquoise colored Christmas tree. That was in October.
It sat in the box for about a month, while I thought about it.
What would I put on it?
That’s when my sweet friend, Michelle Marie, came to the rescue. She called and offered me enough decorations to do my whole tree. When she brought them to me on Thanksgiving weekend, I was thrilled. They were so beautiful and unlike anything I had ever used before.
My kids came with their kids for Thanksgiving weekend and I asked the three youngest ones to decorate the tree.
Four-year old Mile Mae, got on her daddy’s shoulders to put the star on, and while the entire tree leans, including the star, it’s perfectly imperfect. It’s rather Grinch like, and that was my mom’s favorite movie.
After they were all gone, I brought out some of my little fairies, my mom’s butterflies and a few special ornaments. I added them to the tree. The tree lights are pink and at night, it changes the tree’s color and the walls around it glow.
So, although it is a sad Christmas for me in many ways, I have kept my Christmas spirit going, partly in honor of my mother who refused to let an insane alcoholic destroy her Christmas spirit and partly in honor of myself, because I deserve a happy and blessed Christmas, and yes, I am blessed.
I have fifteen grandkids and five great-grandchildren, a beautiful, warm home, food and everything I need.
I firmly believe Jesus is the reason for the season, but when your grandkids are small, it’s also about glitz and glitter and shiny presents and stockings filled to the brim, hugs and love, Oreo’s and milk, all waiting for them at Grammy’s house.
So this tree is for them, and for my mom, the woman who taught me that your Christmas will become whatever you choose to make it, and for my sister, who wouldn’t let me quit Christmas after my mom died.
Special thanks to Michelle Marie for the perfectly timed decorations and thank you Jesus, for another Christmas and another chance to make memories with my family and friends.