Editorial | Grinchy Battle with the Holiday Lights Uncovers the Truth of our Tree

I love Christmas lights. I love Christmas Trees. I am neither great, nor patient, when it comes to putting them up. A bit of the Grinch radiates through me each year when I fight with our lights. The truth is, other people are much better at decorating than I am.

I’ve been known to yell (not nice things) at strings of lights, our Christmas tree, and often times my husband [under my breath] because of something he has either knowingly or unknowingly done to sabotage my effort to just once, easily get the holiday lights up and turned on.

This year he strung some outdoor lights. I re-did two strings of his work three days later. This year I was careful with the tree lights. I shook and shook them, plugged them in – tested them over and over. No way was I going to put bad lights on the tree – AGAIN – and have to start over.

Tested. Repeatedly. Good lights.

Then round-and-round the tree I went, placing five strings (the most I’d ever used) of lights carefully.  I admired my work – a brighter tree than ever.  An hour later, when moving one section of lights into what I believed would be a more visible spot on the tree – BAM- half of one string went out.  Seriously?

Before you ask, yes, I tried the fuse. No luck. One string had to be removed and “Grinchingly” replaced.  The yearly tradition of me yelling at the lights continued. My kids tolerated me, knowing in 15 minutes it would all be over.

Once it IS over, and our tree is all lit up, I forget my annual ‘Grinchy’ display of emotion and distress caused by those pretty lights.

Why? Because Christmas lights are my sparkling anxiety remedy: stare into the lights, relax and let the memory tree work its seasonal magic. Because that’s essentially what our tree is – a 7-8 foot Noble ‘Memory’ Fir courtesy of the Snoqualmie Valley Venturing Crew Tree Lot.

It’s the ornaments that do it. I pulled out those boxes of ornaments, which spend 11 months of the year forgotten in dark storage, and I realized what that tree is all about. Hanging up memories.  Remembering who gave it to you; for what child; what child made it; in what year.

Maybe it’s because I’m older, my kids are older and I lost my dad. I am not sure. But this year, those boxes of ornaments brought more memories than usual.

So this year I made it a point to slow down, enjoy hanging the ornaments with the kids and listening to the stories about their favorites as they searched through the boxes.

It’s not just for me. The kids remember, too. The angels, butterflies, numerous Santas, the San Francisco trolley car, Disney characters, ones made in 2nd grade. The list goes on and on.  They also remember which ornaments were mine as a child – the teddy bear my father had made for me 30 years ago. And if they didn’t remember, they asked.  They wanted to know.

I remembered, too. That time long ago before kids. That first trip to buy holiday ornaments in bulk with my husband for our first tree. So many of those ornaments still hang today. Even with the oldest child away at college, I see her young face when I look at the ceramic baby boots commemorating her fist Christmas.

Memories. This year that’s what our Christmas tree means to me. 20 years of memories centered around four kids, one family and many experiences. A 7-8 foot Noble ‘Memory’ Fir – complete with strong branches and good spacing to highlight the years symbolized by dangling ornaments.

Now, if I can just remember to keep watering it.  Lights and water – my unfortunate Christmas tree downfalls. Happy Holidays Snoqualmie Valley!

2014 tree


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