As any holiday enthusiast knows, decorating the Christmas tree is an essential part of the festivities. The tree is the centerpiece of the holiday: where all the gifts will lie, where the most Instagram pics will be snapped. So making sure it is properly decorated has been the goal of my family for as long as I can recall.
In my household we take this simple event very seriously, my older sister and I strategically placing ornaments on each branch which my mom watches from afar and provides instructions on placement when necessary. The balls go on first. The smallest go on the top, the medium sized underneath them, and the largest adorn the bottom branches. Equally as important is color dispersal. Two red ornaments simply CANNOT be placed directly next to each other, it is a Christmas sin. The best way to achieve the optimal dispersal is by placing the ornament colors in a zig-zag formation so as not to overcrowd the area with the same color but make sure that the color enhances the tree. Homemade ornaments and non-balls go on next. Star goes on last. Not an angel, a star. There are many other aspects of this event that i have not mentioned, simply because they are impossible to explain. Much of it is intuition. “What do you mean I can’t put this snowman ornament here, I’m following all the rules.” Well you just can’t, it doesn’t look right. To many this system might appear stressful, but in my family it is our idea of fun. We turn on our Nat King Cole Christmas album and fire away, focusing on the task at hand.
This year, however, my sister and I had to make room for two extra members in our party. Now explaining this system to anyone always proves to be a challenge to anyone outside our family. Explaining it to a four year old and a two year old? Impossible.
My baby cousins have been living with us on the weekends for about a year now, and of course we have to include them in family events: even the sacred tree decorating. Surprisingly enough, my mother behaved coolly when we commenced decorating; she is the one who trained me and my older sister. But my sister and I did not. The kids were doing it all wrong. They began putting the small ornaments on the bottom and put about five blue ones next to each other. I held my breath as I saw what was unfolding and quicly tried to steer them in the right dirction. But they wouldn’t have it.
Most people would let their children have their fun and not worry about frivolous details such as these. Well not in my family. As soon as the kids would turn their backs to get more ornaments, my sister and I would pluck the incorrectly placed decorations and find a better spot for them. Luckily for us the kids got bored after about half an hour so the two of us got to finish our job as usual, even though it took a bit longer to fix their mistakes.
But if that wasn’t enough, the kids kept messing with the tree even after my sister and I finished. The four-year-old took a cow ornament from the back of the tree and put it right in the middle in front…animals are definitely back ornaments, and I definitely noticed. The two-year-old tries to take some of her favorite ornaments off the tree, but so far I’ve been able to catch her in the act. I have a sixth sense regarding our tree and needless to say, having wandering hands around it has put me under some stress.
Although I admit that having two toddlers around has caused an immense (and often unwanted) change in our Christmas celebration, having kids around has out a whole lot of magic back into the season. Their laughter, smiles, and childlike innocence bring me back to my days of believing in Santa and anxiously awaiting Christmas day. Ornaments on the tree can be moved and corrected, but memories with family will always be precious and cannot be replaced.
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