This may be the second year in a row that I don't put up a Christmas tree. I tell myself it's because I hardly spend anytime here, which is true. And that we aren't doing Christmas this year because got together last year at Christmas so this year was Thanksgiving. Which is also true. But I think the real reason is that my mom loved Christmas. She always had the tree up by December 1st and never took it down until after New Years Day.
She would magically become a young child again as she put up our artificial tree and strung all the twinkle lights. We didn't have the smaller ones you have now, ours were big and we had bubble lights too. All the bulbs were glass and very old fashioned looking. All have broken with the moves and years. I was always allowed to put on my works of art, that I made at school and all the tinsel. She was very particular on how the tree should be arranged. "No big bulbs at the top." And "Put the tinsel on one strand at a time, that way it looks like ice when the lights hit it."
And even though we rarely had more that two or three presents under our tree it was always the best tree of all the Christmas trees I would see. Every year. To my young eyes no one could decorate a tree quite like my mom. The last tree she helped decorate broke the second year after she died. And I never replaced it with a large tree. I went with very small artificial trees after that and ornaments as well. Our cat tended to leave a smaller tree alone. And it became nice for travel when I brought Christmas to First Son the year he graduated from Navy boot camp.
I have a small tree that I put up my first Christmas here and I hardly ever turned it on. And it seemed silly to put it up just for me. No kids anymore and no presents underneath. Why? It's a pagan symbol which in all honesty should make me want to put it up all the more. But when I think about doing it I always get so sad that she's not here with me doing her amazing job of teaching me how to do it correctly. She was big on doing things the right way the first time.
I guess after 17 years I still miss her more than I can articulate. She not only was my mother, but she was my rock and the one person I could always count on to be honest with me and help me to not only learn, but be a better person. And while I can't say we grew up together like me and First Son, I can say that I believe she got a second childhood with me. A chance to grow and learn about a generation she would have been removed from had she had me in her twenties instead of forties. I can't deny that the bad romantic choices I've made in the last 17 years have been all my doing, but I wonder if she'd still been alive if I'd have chosen better. Knowing how disappointed she would have been in me. I can't say I miss her everyday, but she does cross my mind almost every day. Still. Christmas, her birthday in February, which was also my wedding day to my First Husband, and her death day are the days that her memory seems most active. I also feel her very strongly when I'm with my kids. She would be so proud of them both. As I am.