Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ornaments, memories, and letting go

I've mentioned it before - I. AM. A. CONTROL. FREAK!!!

So, letting the kids decorate the tree has been a HUGE challenge for me over the years.

When our older three children were young, I'd let them 'help' me decorate the tree.  Code for:  "Here, let's hang THIS ornament HERE on the tree."  As I guided their little hands to place the ornaments where I thought they should go.  Minimizing breakage and clumping on the tree.

As the years passed, I began to let go.  When the three littles arrived on the scene, the older kids met much more freedom when it came to putting up all those pretty little trinkets.

Still, I sat in the background giving running commentary on 'the blank and/or crowded spots' on the tree.

Then, secretly, after all the kids had left the room or gone to bed, I'd rearrange the ornaments in a much more aesthetically pleasing manner.  No clumps.  No multiple ornaments on one branch.  No bare spots.  Nice, evenly spaced decorations all around the tree.  Placing the 'less than attractive' gems in the back facing the wall.

Not. exactly. letting. go.

Finally, several years ago, I decided the kids could have 'full reign' with putting up of the ornaments.  I put up the lights, strung my bead garland, hung the ribbon, and 'WALKED AWAY'.

The only thing I allowed myself to do was take pictures.

I admit, I still often moved ornaments the littles put up - only because they'd hang 12 items on one branch.  Go figure.

Last year, I began to release even that.  I think I moved items only if they were really weighing down the branch.
That would be 5 on one branch!

Yep, 3 ornaments in one general spot.

This year?  Every ornament stayed RIGHT. WHERE. THEY. PUT. THEM!! (Unless the dog or cat knocked them off, then..... well.... they were fair game to be 'relocated'.  I surely couldn't be held responsible for memorizing where EVERY ornament was on that tree, right?)

It was so much fun decorating the tree with the kiddos (and Techno) this year.

Another 6 rather large ornaments clumped in one general area.
Proof that I LEFT them 'clumped'.
I even left the 'not so pretty' ones in full view.  After all, each and every one
holds a story.  In this clump alone - a computer the kids picked for daddy, a dog
Jacob decorated when he was tiny, a squirrel Techno's grandma made, a bell
from Techno's aunt, a ball Trinity made just recently, and elk antlers to
commemorate some of our adventures here in Wyoming thus far.

Christmas music was playing on the CD player.  All the girls dressed up in their 'old' Christmas dresses.  Everyone wore a santa hat.  The smell of fresh baked cookies wafted through the air.  Memory making bursted at the seams.

I was glad I had 'let go' a bit more.

Then..... the questions.  "Who's is this ornament?  Where did it come from?  What does it mean?  Why is it a train, a horse, a princess?  Who made it?"  On and on it went.

Memories were not only made, but recalled; shared:  From Techno's childhood as the kids asked about ornaments his grandmother made him each year when he was a child.  Still others that my grandmother made through the years.  A bulk that Grandmom and Grandad had given the kids each year as Christmas gifts.  Hand crocheted ones my mom made for Techno and I when we were first married - some that were favors for our wedding reception.  Others that we had given the kids year after year that signified stages they went through or vacations we took.

It's always a touching time.

This year even more so.

This was our first official year in our mountain home ON CHRISTMAS.  Techno had many memories of his mom who passed away over 3 years ago now.  She always loved this time of year.  She always loved the Wyoming mountains.  We got to enjoy both - together.  For the first time - in the home she loved so dearly.

Memories - somewhat sad, but at the same time joyful.

It's also the first time we're so far away from my parents.  It's hard.  We miss them.  Yet, we can share our family events here, on facebook, over the phone.

Memories - joyful, but sorrowful to not be able to share in person.

It's also the last year before Jacob heads off to college.  Potentially the last year he helps us decorate the tree.  Tears were shed.  Hugs were given.  "I'll miss you", was spoken.  OFTEN!

Memories - precious, I'll cherish forever in my heart.

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