We stole a Christmas tree off the sidewalk.
Just before we left for our New England Christmas Tour we decided that our own family would have a small Christmas celebration for Epiphany. Last year we made a snap decision that Christmas in our house would be celebrated throughout the twelve days. Watching our easily-overwhelmed two-year old struggle through stacks of gifts was too much for us. We opened a few Christmas morning and continued to open one or two a day thereafter. Even then, we only lasted until New Year's. Our family helped us out this year by staggering parties and gift shipments so that we have received something almost every day of Christmas this year. We've even managed to come up with one gift for each of us. We're not really compulsory gift-givers around here. We've never given the kids anything ourselves because they are inundated by everyone else. Some years Eric and I have gifts for each other and some years we don't. This year it would have been painfully obvious if anyone had been left out but, fortunately, we had ideas. Margaret will be getting her doll. I'm fully prepared to have it tossed aside and forgotten for the next year or so but Eric is more hopeful. Joseph will be getting a violin! We are so excited about this. Joseph has been talking about playing the violin almost every day for months and months. He turns most of his toys into pretend violins. He can identify the violin (and many other instruments) by sound on the radio. I don't think we'll start all of our kids on instruments at age three, but there is so much Joseph can't do. We wanted to get him going with music. Eric has been dithering about it for weeks but today he went out and rented two violins: one for himself and one for Joseph. A teeny, tiny 1/16 size instrument that might still be too big. I hope it goes well.
Anyway, on and on I go about gifts when all I really meant to do was talk about our tree. We didn't think we were going to have a tree this year. Usually we put one up on the 24th and take it down on the 6th and since we were gone more than half that time it didn't really occur to us. Plus, you can't buy trees on January 2. No. You can't buy them. But you can troll the sidewalks looking for nice rejects from all those secular lame-os who ditch their trees early. We were kidding when we suggested this idea to ourselves several weeks ago but yesterday, out for a walk, we spied a nice green little tree out in front of an apartment building. Most of our neighborhood is ditching trees that have been filling cathedral ceiling living rooms since November 14th so they look bad, but this little one was still green. We put it up in a jiffy, filled it with both strings of lights and hung our small collection of ornaments.
I can't tell you how happy this little tree is making me. Sure, we saw trees in our travels, but not as many as we should have and none of them were our tree. My parents always made our tree magical when I was a kid. It went up on Christmas Eve and Santa decorated it in the night so that on Christmas morning the beauty of the tree almost dulled the spectacle of the gift mound underneath.
Part of me hated to miss the tree this year because I wanted to savor that look of astonished awe that only a one-year-old can have upon beholding the family Christmas tree. Margaret, however, is not one for astonished awe (hence the mental preparation for dolly rejection). Joseph is more than making up for it, though. He loves the tree almost as much as I do.