Sunday, November 30, 2008

Our first Christmas tree

In Ann Arbor, that is. Until last year, we've been blessed to have always been with family for Christmas since we moved here in 2003. That first Christmas was spent in Florida with Jude's aunt, the following year in Montreal with his uncle, and 2005 and 2006 were the best because we actually got to go home for Christmas.

Christmas is a big deal for my family. And putting up the tree is a huge part of that. For as long as I can remember, putting up the Christmas tree has been sort of a ritual in my house: everyone gathers in the living room- my dad's in charge of setting the tree up and laying out the lights, my mom carefully unwraps all the precious trimmings she had painstakingly wrapped in tissue the year before, warning my sisters and I to be careful as we pick out our favorite decoration to hang up. And there's *always* some kind of Christmas music playing in the background.

And so this year, as we spend our second Christmas in a row in Ann Arbor, we decided maybe we should get a tree for ourselves. University housing doesn't allow real trees, so we got a small 3-ft one from Target instead. It was an oddly emotional experience shopping for the tree and decorations yesterday. I think it's the whole mix of not being home for Christmas again, missing the whole tree ritual thing, and adopting this tradition which I've only associated with home for ourselves for the first time. It felt strange and almost a little sad. So there I was, standing in Aisle 23 at Target, holding a $9.99 tree in my arms and literally fighting back the tears...

Putting up a Christmas tree shouldn't be a sad affair and so I mustered all the Christmas spirit I could, put on my favorite Christmas album- A Charlie Brown Christmas- and spent the afternoon trimming the tree with Jude. It's a modest tree, and we didn't buy that many decorations so it's still a little bare. But this is our first tree, and so just like it took years for my family to accumulate and collect the different pieces of trimming for their huge beautiful tree, this is only the first of many trees and Christmas decorations that Jude and I will put up together. And that was the happy thought that put me in a whole better mood for Christmas :)

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