The 2020 Christmas Tree


My father had a strict tinsel rule when it came to Christmas trees. You could only put tinsel on one piece at a time, which was excruciating for his three kids. I suspect he did it so we would tire of decorating quickly, and he could have the tree all to himself. I have spent the last decade or so feeling I wanted my tree all to myself, too, so I’ll blame him. I see pictures of families all crowded around, ornaments in hand, singing Christmas carols and having a whale of a time, but that was not for me. I like the control of putting things in just the right spot and waiting for guests to compliment my work.

I had every intention of doing it that way now that 2020 has made a mess of everyone’s lives. I find myself clinging to routine when I can, wary of all the uncertainties around us and heavy with so many sad stories. But the other day, one of my sons had come over and dragged my tree up from the basement for me. The next day, my two youngest granddaughters were over, and what is better when you’re three and five than being presented with a naked Christmas tree? Yes, I told them, of course they could decorate it, and I went in search of my collection of ornaments. As excited as they were at the thought of the project now in front of them, my mind had already fast forwarded to exactly how I’d fix it when they were gone. Thanks, Dad.

So they got to work. When they found a sturdy branch, they figured where one ball would do, five or six would be even better. They decorated as far up the tree as they could reach. Digging into the contents of the box was like uncovering a treasure chest. They were full of questions about where each ornament came from—intrigued when I told them the story, and equally disappointed to hear I’d bought some of them at half-price sales after the holidays. For an hour, the girls were in that perfect space of sibling nirvana where they kept complimenting each other’s choice of placement and going out of their way to take turns. For an hour, I kept seeing the tree decoration as a temporary distraction. After all, I am still my father’s daughter, and a tree only one third decorated would never do.

When they found the star, they excitedly brought it to me and insisted I place it at the top. I did, only to look up at it five minutes later and see that it had, miraculously, achieved a perfect Charlie Brown angle. It looked like it would just teeter over and fall to the ground.

But it held. Just like we have this year.

That was the moment I knew my Christmas tree would stay exactly as it is. Until January, I will pass it many times a day. I will admire it from every side. I will treasure those moments when those little girls were so proud of what they had created. It’s the most glorious Christmas tree I’ve ever had.

Take that, 2020.

8 thoughts on “The 2020 Christmas Tree

  1. Nicely done Linda Hummel! That’s perfect. I’m crying. Happy Thanksgiving!!! Lee Ann

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

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  2. Love this story…I remember when I let the kids help decorate. I wanted to continue my family tradition. Unlike my mom, I had then afterwards would rearrange their ornaments. Until at the age they realized I moved them.. was the year they stopped helping. To get those years back to have a crazy looking tree..🥲

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  3. I laughed out loud at our urge to control and smiled with the sweetness of acceptance and the ability to view from the eyes of our grandchildren. Loved this!

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  4. Your story brought tears to my eyes. Grandkids are so precious. And what fun they had – no fighting over who would put what where in the true spirit of Christmas.
    All the best for 2021. Keep positive and stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

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