"I've been collecting ornaments for twenty years," I told my husband, "for exactly this moment!"
That was five years ago. Since then we've gotten all our trees at a local tree farm where you tag your tree in the fall and come back to get it in the winter.
This year our tree was beautiful. We live in an old home, with ten foot high ceilings. Our tree nearly touched the ceiling!
I unpacked the ornaments I'd been collecting for twenty years and passed them to my 3 and 4 year old kids to hang. Christmas music played in the background as we trimmed our tree. The only thing missing was a snowstorm (and I wasn't about to complain about that!)
I had a pomegranate ornament that I'd bought, probably fifteen years ago, hand-blown in Bavaria. It was so precious that I'd never hung it before. I was planning to bring it out when the kids were older. When I was a child, we had four ornaments that had glitter flowers on them. As I recall, two were pink and two were purple. Us four children loved these ornaments. They were extra-special. I wanted my kids to have ornaments like that. So, this Christmas, I took out my special pomegranate ornament, then I changed my mind and put it away. But then I looked at the tree. It was perfect. Tall and fragrant. This tree deserved the pomegranate ornament. I did hang it up high, for safety.
My husband needed a chair to put the star on top, and we were done! That's when I turned to my husband and said, ""I've been collecting ornaments for twenty years for exactly this moment!" I was full of joy. My husband, my children, my dog, and my 99-year old home at Christmastime. This was the life I'd been dreaming of for twenty years.
My husband left on some errands. The kids went upstairs to nap. While the house was quiet, I wrapped my husband's presents so we had something to put under the tree. In a nod to his committent to the environment, I wrapped them in newspaper, but to make them look pretty, I made bows to match.
The only thing left was the candy canes. I waited until the kids were back downstairs. They were happily hanging the candy canes when I remembered we had another box we'd bought a few weeks ago. Where was that box? My little boy walked into the kitchen for a glass of water, and I followed, thinking that the candy canes were in our pantry. I thought I saw them on the top shelf. I had just gotten to the top step of my stool when I heard the sound of glass breaking. A lot of glass breaking. I was in the kitchen with my son. My daughter was alone with the tree. She hadn't made a peep. I jumped off the stool and raced into the livingroom.
"It just fell," she said. "I wasn't touching it." Right. Then she started crying. "The ornaments broke!" she cried. I could see that. There were shattered ornaments all over the rug. Water for the tree had spilled all over. My daughter's cries increased to where she was hysterical. Understandably, as our Christmas tree was now stretched across the floor in a pool of shatterered ornaments. "It's okay," I told her, pulling her onto my lap. After she'd calmed down, I put her and her brother in the other room, away from the broken glass, and started cleaning up.
First, I had to get our bear of a tree upright. When my husband had carried it in, he'd said it was a "pig of a tree." He was right. Once I'd finally gotten it vertical, I began assessing the damage. Among the broken ornaments was my pomegranate ornament, in a box for twenty years, on a tree for two hours, and then shattered, scooped up, and dumped into the garbage can.
Other casualties were the first Christmas present we ever gave my daughter when she was just six months old, the first ornament my step-mother sent her, an ornament my sister had given me about eighteen years ago, and the star that went on the top of our tree.