Thursday, November 12th, 2009
Last weekend, I got the urge to put up the Christmas tree. Yeah, I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet (my family’s tradition has always been to put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving), but I’m one of those people who gleefully switches the radio to Magic 96.5, the all-Christmas-music-station, the moment November begins. I don’t want Christmas interfering with my Halloween, but after October 31, bring on the holly and the mistletoe.
Despite my love for all things Christmas-y, I haven’t put up a tree since 2006. I explained that – to myself and others – by saying there wasn’t any point, since we were spending Christmas day at Mom and Dad’s anyway.
But, as I gave in to my slightly premature desire to put up a tree this year, I realized the real reason I had felt zero desire to do it the past two years. A Christmas tree was something I associate so closely with childhood – with that warm, buzzing anticipation and amazement I felt as a child, whenever I looked at a tree and the presents under it, and thought of all the wonders they might contain.
As I gradually (and sometimes not-so-gradually) built up my collection of ornaments in the years since D and I got married, always in my mind as I shopped was the thought of our children growing up to treasure these ornaments, the way my sister and I treasure the ones from our childhood. When we decorated the tree as youngsters (often while watching Star Search), bringing out of the ornament box each familiar sparkling star or wooden angel with my name painted on it sent a wave of warm nostalgia rushing over me. I wanted that for my child, too – the continuity of enjoying these same ornaments year after year.
But as it became clearer we would not have children any time soon, I pushed those thoughts to the back of my mind, and with them the joy of putting up a tree. What was the point, when D didn’t care about a tree (it was never a big deal in his family), and we’d be at Mom and Dad’s anyway, and no one would see it but us. There was no one here to get nostalgic about anything, except me. And instead of nostalgia, I felt emptiness, regret, hopelessness.
This year is different. D still doesn’t care about the tree, and the child I was convinced we’d have by Christmas still isn’t here. But this year I have hope. Today I am 10 weeks and 1 day pregnant.
This time, when I decorated the tree alone, I didn’t mind. I played Christmas music and carefully placed my glittering cupcakes, blown glass rose, Abominable Snowman, and Victorian tinsel. I was happy to see these old friends again and hopeful that next year, I can begin showing them to a child. The baby won’t understand for a few more years yet, but he or she can gaze at the colorful twinkling lights and sparkling ornaments and begin to be, like me, a little mesmerized by Christmas.