I’ve been thinking alot about Christmas traditions and family gatherings in the past few weeks. J and I are non-religious, and perhaps rigidly so, but I have so many warm memories of feeling like Christmas was magical. Yes, it was a blow to find out about Santa, but hey, it seemed more like the kid telling me was blowing it, rather than the adults who perpetuated the mythology. J hates the idea of lying to Q, which I understand, and I don’t really like the idea either, but to grow up never having believed in Santa? That seems, well, unkind.
Today I put up some of our Christmas lights: red dangly stars (thanks Ikea!) and a wreath of lights (thanks Ikea!) and decorated the ficus tree with hearts I made last year (felt). J has made a little wooden tree which he wrapped with colored lights and is planning to hang in the living room (it’s cute, sort of a skeleton version of a Christmas tree, but without the grim connotation that just evoked). I’m envisioning hanging the few large ornaments we have from the ceiling in front of the windows (but not low enough to be grabbed by Q). I hung Q’s stocking from our ‘mantel’ (the corner cupboard) and made a mental note to see if the toy store has more, since it’s pretty and unusual and since we have another kid coming we’ll need two stockings next year. (Not that my role as a youngest sibling made me overtly aware of things I missed out on or anything.)
But we’re avoiding one of the big traditional battles of our marriage: the Christmas tree. I like them. I loved lying on the floor looking up at all the lights. I loved my mother telling me about the ones from her childhood. The ‘icicles’ which were glass or metal and simply little spikes on hooks. I loved the old fashioned shaped lights we had for a while (only one string). I wished I could sleep on the floor in front of the tree, with the colors washing over the world like a stained glass window.
I have, to this point, been conceding the tree battle to J. They do seem a bit silly, lots of work, mess, waste of a healthy tree etc. But Q is now old enough to notice trees in all the stores and get excited about them. He likes the specialness of decorations, and the trees inside seem to especially tickle his fancy. Yes, we can go to Grandma’s for a tree. But it’s something I want to give Q. Like a love for reading, and kisses goodnight. There are some things you hope to get from your parents.
I’m gearing up for the battle. I’ve decided an artificial tree would be fine. We can buy scented candles for ‘pine’ scent. I don’t mind if, for a few years, we get a relatively small tree and put only non breakable ornaments on it. I do mind if there is a bad attitude. I do mind if it actually undermines the goal of creating a cozy, magical Christmas feeling. I know I have to trod carefully here, but I’m wondering if Q has already won the battle for me, it’s just a question of articulating it gently to J and figuring out the delicate path between creating magic for our child through gentle pretend and selling out to the aspects of Christmas we dislike.