Christmas in a Nutshell

No… I’m not going to try and convince those who do not believe that this is really how it aught to be. I’m not up on a soap box and I’m not going to start thumping a Bible. (I think the term bible thumper is sort of funny… It’s rather disrespectful to thump a book so I think that it’s a rather backward name for them, though they occasionally go a little… ok sometimes even a lot, overboard. Their hearts are in the right place… ok, It’s time to end this aside…) But this is MY blog, and by golly if I’m feeling a bit spiritual… ok a lot spiritual (I’m always a BIT spiritual) then I’m gonna post about it.

This year, Christmas is going to be very different for our family. Most years, we deck the whole house out in Christmas decorations, and we pop 4 of Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas CDs and One Kenny G Christmas CD (*Shudders*) into the 5 CD changer and the whole house feels like Christmas. We tape all the Christmas cards we get to the door that leads from the Kitchen to the basement. And every year we have a big 6 or 7 foot evergreen in the living room, and up till a few years ago my father would battle the boughs to make sure it was lit from the inside out… but that’s my job the past few years, and I enjoy it. Then I (or he) would wrap the garland around it and in the rest of the family to put up the orniments. Mom does the honors, putting up the first ball, a clearish blue one that she got a couple of years ago, and since has had the traditional honor of going up first, since it roomed in the box with the red glass balls my parents had since they were married, (and lost 4 out of 24 of over the last 20 years) Then up went the red balls, my brother and I each get to put up 10 on our sides of the tree, and then debate who gets to use which of the family ornaments on their side of the tree…

(“Well if you get the walrus then I get the tree fairy.” “No fair you had the tree fairy last year!” “No I didn’t you had the tree fairy and the walrus, because I got the seal on the north pole sign.” “Oh… yeah… then I get the seal this year…” “Ok…I call the pinecone birds…” “Ok… so I get the silk fish and Kermit on the sleigh…” “Ok….”)

That tradition started years and years ago, when our parents told us that how we decorated the tree impacted how many gifts we would find under our sides of the tree. It was never a malicious competition, always in good humor, up until the last few years. Then the competition diminished, as our tree decorating took on a whole new purpose, with the invention of a new game. We took 3 jointed teddy bear ornaments, and walked them around the tree… the “floors” of which were determined by both the natural ledges of the palm boughs and the garland. They were on a mission, to find something, we decided, and they could only move so many paces… each pace was determined as the distance from one light to the next on the light strings… and they had to get to a red ball or one of a few special ornaments (the Gumball machine, or the Tree Fairy, or any ornament that had food, excluding the plastic gingerbread people, gingerbread houses and the candy cane and gumdrop teeter totter, just because it’s not nice to eat people or their houses and furniture.)

The game developed that year, into a whole complicated extravaganza, the rules of which were rather complicated but well known. We took turns speaking for the ornaments, and guided our bears along the trail to find what they were looking for. But… they never found it that year, because we couldn’t think of anything.

The next year, with the game in mind we set up the tree looking quite nice, while also having a playable game board, and decided that they were in search of the star at the top of the tree… they never made it. It was too long a journey and the clues to cryptic because if they weren’t it would be to obvious…

The year after that… we tried again, with a new destination in mind. I started a new tradition that year, when as I attempted to hang it on the tree the old silly looking baby Jesus in a cradle made out of walnut shell ornament broke, and Jesus fell out. We decided that it was ok that it was in two pieces, and left baby Jesus over behind my mother’s precious moment’s nativity. When we came down Christmas morning, I went to look for him to put him in the walnut cradle… but Santa already had.

The baby in the walnut was our goal that year, and the three bears our Magi. We had to get them their by the Epiphany, because that was the weekend that the tree came down. I was most appropriate, and that year, they made it to where they meant to get. We played that game for a couple of years, even adding a little ladder down by the bottom of the Tree that was given to me by my Spanish speaking grandfather. It used to have an Elf and Santa on it… but the elf fell off…

Then one year, my brother simply didn’t want to bother with the tree decorating… or the game. He said he was too old. (For the record he’s 2 and ½ years younger than me.) So I got all of the good ornaments that year… and mom decorated his side… the next year, he came back to decorating, knowing if he didn’t he would get stuck with the cookie dough clown and the wooden tug boat.

The game disappeared, but every year we still decorated the tree, and put up the walnut cradle in the center of the tree, right about eye level, and every year when we came downstairs for presents, there would be the tiny baby Jesus in his cradle.

This year we don’t have a 6 foot pine tree. We have a 2 foot tall fake tree that has always resided on the coffee table in the Family room (The biggie always went in the front window in the Living room.) and it’s still decrated from past years… I was off at college till last Wednesday, and the family was sort of busy. We are going to visit relatives in New Jersey for the holidays anyhow. We leave on Christmas Eve, so we won’t even be here. That tree always meant a lot. I though without it there was no way there could be Christmas.

Even with the whole house decked out and the Christmas Music blaring out of the stereo (And if you don’t think Christmas Music can Blare than you have never heard Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas Music… It’s SPECTACLUAR!!!) There was something seriously missing. I though it was the tree. But at Church this morning I realized what it was. Santa Clause and Trees and Christmas carols are not what it’s about for me any more. It hasn’t been for years. I got home from church and ran downstairs to the basement pulling out the box of Christmas tree ornaments, which was still down there, cause we didn’t have a tree big enough to put it on anyhow… and I searched through the wads of tissue paper, until I found the smallest ornament in the box. It was the size of a walnut… that’s cause it was a walnut. The empty walnut cradle hangs now on our 2 foot tall fake tree… and everything is just right.

Jesus is the reason for the season and I just can’t separate the two of them. Jesus is Christmas. I suppose I’ll take the Walnut and it’s occupant with me when we travel on Christmas Eve, mom says Grandma and Grandpa shouldn’t mind to much… it’s just one extra ornament. Well to them it is… to me… it’s Christmas in a Nutshell.

((BTW: This time, I DO mean to sound poetic.))


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