Many of us are going to jump from Thanksgiving straight into Christmas. I will be one of the ones in this group - my tree has always gone up the day after Thanksgiving. For me, it's always been more about the time I have off work and the fact that I don't like to shop on Black Friday. (Yes, I do like to save money; I just hate the crowds.)
However, in the last few years, it hasn't been quite as much fun to decorate for the season. My kids are older now and they really don't want to stop what they're doing to help out anymore. This adds to my stress because I'm putting up the tree and dragging out all the decor items by myself. Even worse, it kills the memorable time that we use to spend together putting up the tree.
Last year, when I pulled out the tree to put it up, I found my kids had totally destroyed it the year before in the takedown process. Half of my tree's limbs were bent most likely because one kid pushed the other into the tree when taking it apart and packing it away. I was so upset by this tree being destroyed and the fact that my older teens had really acted like they could care less about helping put up one more tree.
I totally had no desire to even put up a tree. I was quite the scrooge wallowing in my own self-pity.
Fortunately, I was able to go to the after Christmas sale and found a great buy on a new Christmas tree for this year. This whole experience of going a year as the Scrooge and without a tree has taught me a few things about how and what it means to decorate for Christmas in my almost empty nest!
First - decorating the Christmas tree is not just about me
Christmas never has been and never will be about me - somehow I lost that along the way. Christmas is all about the celebration of the birth of Christ. It's about my savior and the fact that he came into this world to save me from me. Yes, it's a time to spend with family and friends in celebration, but we should not lose the reason behind why we celebrate, to begin with. It definitely is not about my selfish motives of getting to spend time with my kids putting up as my son says, a "pagan tree".
Second - my actions and feelings when decorating the Christmas tree affect others' joy
The way that we behave and act has a significant impact on others around us, especially at the holidays. This past Christmas was tough because it was like I was holding a grudge against my kids through the whole season - didn't they know how important it was for me?!
No, it was not ok that they destroyed my tree. However, I truly was totally unaware this was all affecting my husband as well. He's always been a Grinch of sorts at Christmas, so I've always made a big deal of the season trying to lift his spirits. I really just assumed that he was being his usual Grinch self. Until this year, when I heard him tell someone that he really enjoyed watching me make a big deal over Christmas and how he hoped this year went better, I had no idea that I actually inspired him in the season (even though that was what I was trying to do).
Third - I shouldn't take on more than I can do myself when decorating the Christmas tree
I have learned that the kids are busy and they might not even be home when it's time for the tree to go up. For my future, I should be more aware of what I can accomplish by myself. I could opt for a bit smaller tree. I could finally realize that the designer trees in the magazines might not be for me. I could not forget that a little can go along way and not expand my decor to a level that it takes more than one person to accomplish. Simple can be beautiful.
Fourth - Decorating the Christmas tree should be fun and meaningful
Anytime that we get to spend sharing time with our kids should be fun and meaningful. I enjoy using my tree as a glimpse into some of my most favorite things. Treat the tree the same as you would a room and use it to reflect your style and tell your family's story. This is extremely important when you have an almost empty nest. Don't get hung up on displaying a tree that looks like a designer put it up. I AM a designer and I'd much rather see you create a tree that tells your family's story!
There you have it. Decorating the Christmas tree should be considered a time for family memory building and a time for worship - not a time for selfish ambitions. I know it's difficult to watch the kids grow up and accept the fact that they just really don't want to spend all their free time with us. But if we love them, we will watch them grow and not want to hold them down. Enjoy the time that you have with them.
If you know another empty nester who might need to hear these words about decorating the Christmas tree, please share this post or pin it for a reminder later.
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