Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Tree Angst-Part One

Twelve years ago, when we first moved into this lovely old house, our very first house, with its long living room with high ceiling, I imagined a grand Christmas tree, the kind you see in old Hollywood films, placed perfectly so in front of the arch window.  My first baby was born just a few weeks before Christmas that year, so my nesting instincts were in full swing.  We did buy a gorgeous nine foot tall artificial tree that year.  It was expensive, but it was an investment in Family Christmas, and all the joyous family Christmases to come.  We had little furniture in the living room, at that point, as we had moved from an apartment to this bigger space.  So the tree was truly a grand focal point of the room.

Fast foward to present day, and my "baby" boy is twelve.  The living room seems to have shrunk.  I just realized that there's no longer space for the grand tree, not without blocking the projection screen TV and putting some of our accumulated possesions out on the lawn for a month or so.  Now I'm looking for a nook or cranny, anyplace, where I can stick a Charlie Brown size Christmas tree.  I feel sick.  Where did all this STUFF come from? We certainly aren't hoarders.  And yet we've managed to fill this place to the brim in a few years.  My grandparents lived in a much smaller house for sixty years.   Would anyone be able to walk through this house if we lived here another fifty years??

The Christmas Tree Dilemma has me noticing just what we have accumulated over the past dozen years.  I look around our home, and I see my the rocking chair in which my mother rocked me, the pine needle baskets my mother-in-law wove, the cedar chest in which my grandmother stored her trousseau, the mantle clock my grandfather wound nightly, the church doors from my beloved friend's home, the Quan Yin statue that sat in our now-closed store, the dioramas my children made ~ and even the stash of materials for projects not yet created. 

Seen this way, this stuff no longer feels like "stuff," as in the dictionary definition of "worthless things or matter."  These are venerable old friends that reverberate with the spirit of our loved ones, near and far, living and passed ~ and even our past and future selves.  They remind me of the Velveteen Rabbit.  They have been loved enough to become Real.  So what's a moment of high maintenance grandeur compared to living, day in and day out, with the furniture Sages, the living Memories, and the Portent of that which is yet to be created?

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