Today we put up our Christmas tree. It’s no longer an optional seasonal whim now that we have a four year old, but an important permanent tradition we need to uphold if we want to retain our self-respecting parenting badge. Also, I like Christmas lights.
What I don’t like, is trying to keep my patience while letting my four year old “help” me as I try to get lights on the tree while my head is completely foggy and my brain has been replaced by what appears to be nothing but snot.
I may have succumbed to by child’s greatest biological warfare asset. His germs. I’ll live, but the chances of me showing up to work tomorrow to revel in my tidy desk which I have finally achieved at the expense of great effort are growing slimmer by the minute. Sorry, mom. I’d tell you not to worry but that would be pointless. I am being looked after very well however, as Hawkeye sometimes seems to remember that I am not feeling well because I keep getting sneak attacked with random hugs and kisses from him and it’s pretty much the sweetest thing ever.
But back to the tree. It’s about the only thing I managed to accomplish today while upright, with the exception of some very necessary laundry. The lights are somewhat more haphazardly placed than usual, but hey, I’m learning to let go of perfection, right? And since we couldn’t stop there, we put up all of the special ornaments we have, which is the unique ones. I have a stash of the usual shatter-proof baubles next to the tree but I’m sitting here looking at it now and wondering if they’re even necessary.
See, we have a quarter-tree. Some years ago, well before Hawkeye was born, I had decided I wanted to have our own tree but there is of course always the issue of space in an apartment. On our way back from Galway one holiday season a few days after Christmas we had to stop by Marks and Spencer for some reason I no longer recall, and I was surprised to discover that they had some trees still available for sale. The St. Stephen’s day sales were already mostly over but there it was, a 6-foot quarter tree, at a fraction of the usual cost. So of course I gave in to impulse and purchased it. Not only that, but I actually unpacked it and put it up that year. Christmas may have come and gone, but New Year hadn’t come yet and I did spend the first half of my life celebrating New Year rather than Christmas with my family so I wasn’t fazed in the least by my timing. The fact that it was a quarter-tree meant it was easy to find space for it in an apartment and it was easy to store in the back of a closet when the holidays came to a close.
I think, however, that we’re going to need a bigger tree next year. It’s just a little…. sparse in the corner of our living room and god knows I have enough ornaments I never use that I could probably decorate a full size tree easily enough. Who knows, perhaps I might get lucky again in the post-Christmas sales…
However most of the ornaments that I don’t put up have on special meaning to me. The ones that we put up on the tree today all have a history. Or at least I know where they come from and there is a face attached to each one. Almost all of them have come to us since Hawkeye’s birth. We have the trinkets and mementos of his birth year from friends and family, either with photos or baby-themed ornament I got from two colleagues at work. We have two girls in scarves which I know are cheap and cheerful little things from Tiger, but they were a gift from a friend and I absolutely love their look. One of Hawkeye’s godparents is responsible for the series of little hand-pained painted, metal cast figures of angels and Santa. There’s a stocking as well that I need to thread with ribbon before I can add to the tree.
Another tiger purchase is a set of paper ornaments, also from Tiger, which mum got last year and put up on the tree herself with Hawkeye when visiting. And we have our souvenirs from the Dublin Zoo’s Wildlights exhibit – a metal one last year and one from their Christmas market shop this year which his filling the whole room with a smell of cinnamon and cloves. Or at least I think it is, because my sense of smell is somewhat impaired right now.
Hawkeye was expecting a yellow star for our tree topper, because that’s what they have in Paw Patrol, but I am Russian-born after all, and after much effort and hunting located a red one last year which is having its second outing at the top of tree.
And lastly of course we have Hawkeye’s favourite – the three wise Christmas dinosaurs foraging around our tree. These were also a gift from a friend in America. When I see them on the tree I am reminded of a line in the movie Love, Actually, when Emma Thomson’s character animatedly congratulates her daughter on getting a part in the Christmas play:
“I’m going to be a lobster.”
“Do you mean to tell me there was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?”
I may not have the three wise men here, but I have three Christmas dinosaurs so I am sure all will be well around our tree this year. As long as the Stegosaurus doesn’t eat the tree and the T-Rex doesn’t eat Santa.
You hear that, T-Rex? Stop eating Santa!