Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Tree Is Up...and I'm a Little Down

No surprise, finding a Christmas tree here is definitely a lot easier than it was in Jerusalem.

Thanks to a recommendation from one of my colleagues, I drove south of town to a nursery with a great selection and great prices. I found a nice 6.5 ft tree for 25 euros. And although the price was not as good as in Jerusalem (Israel gives free trees to diplomats), it also didn't remind me of Charlie Brown's tree.

Today my goal was to get the tree set up.

I cranked up the Christmas music (thanks to 97.1 WASH FM's 24 hour Christmas music and the I Heart Radio app) and started decorating. The lights were a bit of a challenge...I decided to get 220v ones rather than using a transformer and our old lights, but they are not a string so much as a circle. It took a bit to figure them out and the make them work (because I loosened some of the bulbs getting them out of the package...taking lights off the tree that worked before you put the ON the tree...not fun).

Once the lights were up, I put the ornament pictured above on...we bought it from the Hallmark shop in Chapel Hill, NC for our first Christmas together in 1999. I always put it on the tree first.

Each of our ornaments is a memory. Before my wife and I got together, I had a tree of stuffed teddy bear angels, and the tree still bears some sign of that. The tree topper is still the teddy bear angel and there are still lots of stuffed angel bears all over it. But there are fewer than there have been in the past, and each year the number decreases as we add other ornaments. Each place we go for vacation and each place were we spend Christmas, we acquire an ornament. So there are ornaments there from Chrleston, SC, Chimney Rock, NC, and Ft. Pulaski, Ga., but also from Baku, Istanbul and Jerusalem. And now Tallinn. This was the last ornament to go on the tree.

I always loved Christmas as a kid, though it has periodically taken some hits. My first Christmas after my parents separated still makes me a little sad, and the Christmas after the death of my great-grandmother, with whom I had spent ever Christmas of my life until then, was also a hard one. Hardest of all was dealing with Christmas after the death of my mother. It took a long time for me to feel the joy again. Losing my grandmother two years ago was less hard, because we managed to have all of us together with her, including my brother and his kids, on her last Christmas.

This Christmas too will be good, because I will be with my wife. But I will miss Christmas with my dad and his side of the family, and that makes me a little sad. And being apart from all of my family, especially my wife and dad, right now has me a bit in the dumps. The tree is pretty (though I forgot to pack the garland...I vaguely remember that I thought it was in crappy shape and that I'd get more here...wish I had remembered that when I was at the store today...), but it makes me miss everyone.

I know we'll be together soon, but forgive me if I am a little misty all the same.

"All I want for Christmas is you."


alex said...

I love when ornaments all tell a story.

alex said...

I love when ornaments all tell a story.

Connie said...

I am never impressed with 'department store theme trees' with all their matching ornaments and syncronized finery. I like ornaments with a past. Often that past can be a little bittersweet, but it is beautiful nonetheless. I was looking at my daughter sleeping the other day, wrapped around a giant teddy bear that I had as a child. I had a vision of the Christmas I got it. I was 6yo, and that big ol bear was sitting in the white flowered basket of my first bike... yep, one with a banana seat!.. and all the other toys were arranged around the living room, set up, ready to play, something my dad did every year. I miss my dad, and I'm thinking now, that I need to put that teddy bear out next to our tree this year. Your tree is lovely!

ChicaOverseas said...

Thank you for making me feel better. This is my 2nd Christmas without my mother and it was such a relief in a way to read that I am allowed to wait to feel the joy of Christmas again. Your blogs are hidden gems and I thank you for them.

Digger said...

Glad I could help. Fifteen years later, I still miss my mom every day, and Christmas still makes me miss her more. People sometimes expect that maybe your first Christmas will be hard and then it will be all better. The reality is that it often takes years. You get to take as long as you need.

Nomads By Nature said...

Such a sweet and poignant post. Wishing you all the joy of the season as you meet back up with your wife for the holidays.

Our ornaments tell stories too making the decorating of a tree a great trip down memory lane and a mark of our lives. It helps offset some of the painful times, too.

This Christmas has been a hard one here at post for many. We lost two Peace Corps volunteers, three are med-evaced, due to a horrible accident. Our hearts are heavy for all those affected, especially their families back home dealing with this, especially at this time of year.