I totally was.
(I feel like I need to whisper that…hahah)
Not because I’m Scrooge, really.
But more, that I really didn’t want to be bothered with it. It seemed like much work. Getting the tree, getting the decorations, getting the Christmas spirit. The whole thing. And couple that with moving cross country the week after Christmas and you have a big old Scrooge called me.
That was until my 15 year old daughter sat next to me in my minivan as we were returning with more boxes and asked if we could get a tree. She kept asking and I kept ignoring but finally just listened.
Please, mom? I think it would still be nice.
It would still be nice.
Out of her mouth.
Sometimes Christmas is just hard, isn’t it? It seems that oftentimes Christmas rolls right around when there’s really tough stuff. I remember the first Christmas as a single mom not even sure I could make it through – every ornament seemed heavy – like my heart. And yet, my friends, we make it through. We inhale deep and exhale and do what we need to do.
Because we love them.
So today, today we bought a tree.
A little Charlie Brown scrawny tree. And a new tree stand because in my Konmari cleaning purge this summer I got rid of the old one. And as I stood at the amazing tree farm known as Home Depot I asked the man to save me the tree cut from the bottom of the tree.
And then the tears filled my eyes.
My Grace was right.
Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect to matter.
Christmas doesn’t have to look like all the other Christmases that we’ve celebrated. Or what Pinterest says or Facebook or what everyone else’s looks like.
What matters, beyond the religious reasons my family celebrates, is the simple act of showing up and creating memories. Simple simple simple. Not all this crazy complicated stuff that I used to think that Christmas meant.
You know what?
This year, because I had no pressures and I was going through everything I let the kids decorate without stress. And, my dear friends, it was so simple that it was perfect. There’s that tree next to an almost empty book case and garland on the stairs.
So I know that some of you have heavy hearts and the last thing you want to do is Christmas. I know it’s hard. I know it unearths stuff. I know.
But can I encourage you to just do a small thing?
Maybe it’s a tree. Or some lights. Or something. Because our kids don’t need things to be perfect. They just really need us to show up and celebrate the magic that is so easily squashed as adults. They need those simple magical memories of garland or eggnog or stockings.
You can do this.
Boxes around. Imperfect life. Crazy chaos.
What matters is the memory.
Read The Brave Art of Motherhood to learn about the raw strength of getting through, even when you want to call it quits.
ps. Those are my tree trunk “Cuts” from the bottom of my tree. I am so THANKFUL for my Grace. Could you imagine if I had missed this year? Simple. And since this post, I’ve added two more for our collection of tree trunk memories.
Honestly, money is super tight and things are so bad this year that I was going to skip it too. But then I found a small $20 pre-lit tree and in that moment I bought it. Without thinking. Money is still uber tight and the kids will get very little almost nothing this year, but we have a tree.
Can i ask what the cut tree trunk pieces are for? Some year dates are missing – just curious what they symbolize. They are beautiful
Just like you cut a flower’s stem before putting it in water you do the same with a tree so that it “drinks” the water. So I started saving them and dating them eleven Christmas’s ago and now they have become the most prized thing for my kids.
WOW! I was just sitting here with my next blog title going to be, and they say money isn’t everything, but at this time of year, well it sure seems to be that. Then I came across your post and yes, for so many Christmas is a burden in other ways. Although our stories are very different, we are the same. We are moms! No matter their age, we created wonderful memories, and for you kids to ask for those memories to be created once again is awesome! That’s you doing it right, Rachel! You did the right thing, and no matter how different it may be this year, it’s about being together and adding that 2016 trunk to that pile! Chin up, hold that head up and celebrate the little things in these few weeks! MERRY CHRISTMAS!
I agree. We are different, but the same. How cool is that! (From one mom to another mom.) … and Happy New Year!
I love this post…it truly is the simple things that matter. The holiday season can become so extravagant, but doesn’t need to. Keep it simple and keep it real!
What matters is the memory. That is SO true! I thought I was the only one who loved saving the bottom of the Christmas tree trunks for ornaments. Such a fun tradition! Happy Holidays to you and your family.
I love this article, as I am trying to stay positive looking at my lonely tree with no presents under it going and wishing that w will be able to make it through this next 13 days…life is hard, you never know what’s coming next and I am but even moving but just doing it for my five kids, they need happy in their lives! Thank you for sharing!
1) you’re moving? Where? Good luck!
2) I hate moving so much, I’d be tempted to skip Xmas too.
3) I think it turned out right. Later in life, you’d kick yourself for not doing Xmas. & the missing tree trunk slice would be a glaring reminder. I know it would be for me anyway.
4) have yourself a merry little Christmas! (Bonus points if you just sung that in your head. 😉)
Simple is so beautiful, especially at Christmas. Your kids will love it. God bless you as you have to deal with moving right after Christmas!
My daughter brought home her Santa letter today. Since we don’t celebrate Santa she asked her teacher who should she write to. Address it to your mom she said. She did, and this beautiful 6 year old asked for a good day. No present, just a good day. I will be making sure that I do all that I can to make her wish come true. Simple
Thank you, my daughter is having heart surgery right after Christmas and I haven’t really felt like celebrating. But you are right, I have to be strong for her, not just at Christmas, but whenever she needs me.
Hugs to you. I can’t imagine how scary and how sad it must be for you. Be strong for your sweet daughter and hugs to you momma for all you are doing!
This year well be extremely hard as I lost my Mom in August, but she would want me to carry on some of those family traditions for my granddaughter. So this year I carry on in honor of my Mom.
I love the trunk cutting idea. The star on our tree is a simple 5 pointed figure cut from a piece of pine. I remember when the kids thought that the star was sub par, but now they understand with me. Jesus Christ was born in humble purity and laid in a wooden feed box. What would be a better treasure than humble wooden star, or the ends of your yearly evergreen tree. For the Savior, who over came death and is the life of the world, IS the reason for the season. Simple. Simple. Sweet.
I have just found your blog via a friend sharing your 16 things… then found this. It was our first Christmas doing ‘separate’ things and brought a heaviness to my heart that was indescribable, even now, a few days later it brings manic tears to my eyes. The making new memories and sharing with friends was what kept me going for the sake of my children and their need to have a joyful albeit disjointed Christmas. We had a great day and what was will never be again but we are moving forward.. little steps. Your 16 things blog also resonates. Thank you
It was to be a Christmas like no other. We had buried our first born, our only son in August and there was no joy in our house. My 6 and 4 year old daughters had lost their brother, how could we take away Christmas? So we decorated and shopped and wrapped and worked hard to get into the Spirit. My 6 year old told us a few days before Christmas she wanted Santa to bring her a cross, like her brother’s from his funeral. Doesn’t sound like much of a challenge, but it is a three-bar Orthodox cross, not common or easily found. I called our priest and he in turn called the priests throughout the diocese and none close by had any on hand. By now, I am panicked as this was before Amazon and EBay! We couldn’t have Santa let her down. Two days to go, I stopped at the funeral home to ask them where they ordered them. The beautiful soul checked his back room and found one!!! I brought out my checkbook and was told, No, this is from me. I embraced him and thanked him and bawled all the way home. Christmas morning she ran immediately to his stocking and as she took out his cross, the first sparkle of Hope shone In her eyes. The birth of Jesus represents our Savior and is the basis for this Holiday. Because we believed our son to be there, we had to be thankful for His birth. The beauty of the giving soul relieving my desperation was our true Santa. So what started as a heartbreak was blessed into JOY. This is what I wish for all with broken hearts!