I love Christmas. I always have. I love it even more because my anniversary is only four days before it. I love decorating the house, putting up the tree while Christmas music plays in the background, making cards, getting cards and news-filled letters, and our family favorite tradition of decorating cookies. But then came the Army and the empty nest.
I think every parent who goes through the empty-nest stage must come to grips with which traditions to carry on even when your kids aren't around to enjoy them...or to help share the work. On top of that, as an Army wife, I have to balance how much stuff gets packed and shipped thousands of miles every few years. Eighteen months ago when we moved to Alaska, I didn't know how much storage space I'd have. I had almost all of my Christmas decorations, including my tree, sent to my daughter for storage. I figured I could make do without them for a few years.
I didn't realize just how big until my husband and son surprised me with a Christmas tree yesterday. They left for "lunch, haircuts, and something I wasn't invited to share" in the morning and came back several hours later. I was busy in my craft room working on some projects for upcoming posts and was told to stay put. I sat there listening to my two men whispering and shuffling around being mysterious in the living room (which is around a corner but still within earshot). Several hours later, they told me to come see.
I burst into tears. There was a tree, something I'd told my husband I regretted not having, decorated with thirty-two roses--one for each year of our marriage. Underneath were boxes of hand-painted ornaments from The Santa Claus House in nearby North Pole. Some of the ornaments are Alaska themed, but most of them have a nativity scene.
Because the other thing I regretted leaving behind was my nativity crèche.
There are many times my husband doesn't listen to me, but then there are times like this. He heard me. He really heard me. And he gave me more than a plastic tree and glass...he gave me Christmas wrapped with more love than my heart could contain.
This year taught me that, even if no one else cares about it, I need a tree. I need reminders of Christ's birth. I need to celebrate God with us.