Some of my very best Christmas memories are decorating the tree.
Actually, the whole process. From picking it out, to taking it home. Then watching my dad set it in the stand. Smelling it so clearly upon entering the house after school. And finally… decorating it!
I am a child of the 60’s and 70’s. Holiday decorations were as tacky as can be back then! We always had a live tree. We covered it with those big colored lights. We strung gold tinsel garland around it. We hung decorations and then put angel hair over the lights. I am sure this was not altogether safe. Finally, tinsel. Boxes and boxes! My mother and I would sit in silence enjoying the magic of the moment.
It was one of the few times I felt safe.
When Gracie and Molly came along, I dove in to Christmas. Kenny, ever a child at heart was all over it. I strung lights and garland down the staircase. I decorated shelves with a flower pot nativity scene. Every card received was taped to the woodwork. I bought snow globes and framed pictures for display only at Christmas. Kenny string lights all over the house and yard.
It was the tree, though, that solidified the beginning of Christmas.
We typically bought one from a local vendor named Arnie. We once got one at the YMCA. Choosing the tree was fun because we all knew that the right one would present itself. It always did. We had some amazing trees over the years. We would put Christmas CDs into the stereo and music would waft out of the speakers. We would have cookies and eggnog. Kenny and I would have our own special “eggnog”.
Molly was always in charge.
Gracie would hang a few ornaments and then become bored. She would watch TV or play with a game or toy. In her early teen years, she would find her phone. Molly however, wanted to hang all of the ornaments. She would move the chair or step ladder around and choose the perfect spot for whatever ornament she held. When the tree was done, we would turn off the overhead light and just look at it.
It was one of the few times I felt like a good mother.
We would blur our eyes to make sure the lights were evenly placed. I always did the lights. It was just my thing. I love watching the dark green tree slowly transform into a beacon of light and love. The last time I put white lights on a green tree was in 2015. Our Christmas decorations have been in boxes in the attic since I put them there in January of 2016.
On Sunday Kenny and I bought a tree.
We put it on top of the car. We set it up in the stand. We turned it this way and that to get just the right position. Jack toddled around while we made it right. We opened the first box of lights. Kenny reached out to help but I held him back. He understood. He and Jack went to the play room.
I put the lights on the tree.
I was anxious at first and a little teary eyed. I talked to Molly and told her how much I missed her. I described Skye, Somerset and Willoughby to her. I told her about Virginia and Hugh. I have told Molly about them before but it felt right to talk about them as I lit their tree. The tree was for them.
They could have bought their own tree and done the lights themselves. However, I wanted them to turn the corner and see a lit tree in their living room. I wanted them to enter the house and feel the magic.
I wanted to put lights on a tree.
They have now added their decorations and the tree looks amazing. They love it. I love that they love it. It was an honor to be a part of their return home. They have three weeks here. I am glad that I could be a part of it.
I am thinking that next year may be the year we once again have a tree. This is Christmas number seven without Molly. Over half the number of Christmas’s she was alive to celebrate. We have the MollyB Tree but that stands year-round. It is certainly a part of the holiday season but more a reminder of all that we loved about Molly.
So Happy Christmas MacGregor Family, and Happy Christmas to Gracie and Jack.
While I am still a world away from truly diving into Christmas, I am moving toward creating more traditions for Jack. I am moving into having Gracie be a part of this process. I am moving toward Kenny’s eggnog and holiday music. We lost a lot more than Molly in 2016. We lost every happy holiday we ever had.
So, I’m trying. Happy Holidays Everybody.