Maura loooooooooooooves Christmas. Loooooooooooves. It makes her giddy and excited and she looooooooooves it.
Me? Well, having played the mom role for Christmas for umpteen years, I can be a little less predictable about how I feel about Christmas. Some years, I’m all “Yeah! I love it too!” Other years, I’m a bit “Meh.” This year, I was a bit “Geez, do I really have to put up the tree?”
I really didn’t want to. I actually thought about how I could get away with not putting up the tree. However, we were clearing out the storage unit we rented before our move this summer and some of the last things out of there were, in fact, the Christmas tree and decorations. I had the menfolk move the boxes into the back room, the only space big enough for our really chubby Christmas tree, and then was all “Geez, do I have to?”
For two weeks, I sort of ignored the boxes. I put up other decorations, the easier ones, but kept stalling over the three. I thought about possibly just getting away with the little narrow tree from Ireland that we had. Surely the teens might not notice.
But Maura watched me walk past the Christmas tree box one day, as I sorted out the back room. Every time I passed the box, she’d pipe up with “Twee?”
I sighed, and finally relented, opening the box.
“TWEEEEEEEEEE!” Maura squealed with complete and total delight.
And suddenly, I wanted to put that tree up. Even if it was going to be too wide for the space and annoy me for part of the season because it was so friggen wide. Except, somehow, in putting it together, I started with the middle section by accident (our tree comes in three sections) and suddenly I realized that our normally obnoxiously full-bodied 7 1/2 foot tree could be a more manageable, less chubby, 5 1/2 foot tree if I just left off the bottom section.
And so I did.
Maura didn’t care either. “TWEE!” she exclaimed, thrusting ornaments at me.
I let her help me decorate the tree. I started getting deeper into the decoration boxes and smiling at the ornaments – baby’s first Christmas, Maura’s ridiculously wonderful lopped-eyed gingerbread creature, ones I bought while in Dublin, and in Rome, the sacred Rudolph ornament that my oldest made 14 years ago, that has been the pride of our Christmas tree, the first kid-made ornament brought proudly home from school. We hung the stockings, lit the tree, and for the next few days, Maura spent her time camped out next to the tree when at home.
Sure, it’s a bit tilted, my tree, because the middle section wasn’t meant to fit into the base, and the ornaments are horrendously clustered, but that’s okay. Being Maura’s mom means embracing imperfections with glee. Being Maura’s mom means experiencing the innocent joy of Christmas with her every year, the delights, the wonder. And as someone who inherently loves Christmas, I’m glad I have Maura there to push me into action when I feel like half-assing it. She won’t let me, and that’s her gift to me.