On The First Day The Tree Went Up The Memories Flooded In

We snip. We cut. We add we subtract. And we upgrade, downgrade, go outside, inside. Evolving and changing our traditions a little more, a little less, a little different every year.

But there is always a tree. And some years two.

Its as if she were the archivist for our very lives. She, an archeologist on a dig into the very soil of our living. She,the record keeper and documentarian of family and the unfurling of the days of our lives.

And she asks for so very little. Just water to keep her from dropping needles, just water to sustain her for a season.

We have picked up, boxed up and moved out of houses and homes. Like salting soup, who measures, counts, it adds taste and flavor and you just keep shaking the shaker until its right. You don’t count and I am not counting now. But it feels like a nice big number.

I remember the trees always, some how, some way, some size, there is always a tree to hold up the recording of child’s art or First Christmas married ornaments  bought to fill the tree. And in the upside down paradox of the tree’s economy, the construction paper ones are more precious than the sterling silver ornaments from stores with names which are hallmarks of fine gifts.

And in the paradox of the tree, the ones hanging by a thread and hanging with yarn are finer, much more valuable than the big glass ones which break, by twos and by two dozens it seems, every year.

As with the paradox held in her limbs, so too in life — the meek shall inherit the earth and he who is last will be first. Simple is sweetest and the primitive ones hold memories like facets in a diamond, the year, the child, the size of hand. The growing life held on the steadfast trees.

There are strange stories that she could tell, this historian of the home. The silver ornaments found in the yard saved just in the nick of time from the trash heap or recycler. And months later in the back of the car, a favorite retrieved, saved thankfully from being lost and tossed.

When I was a child, a big child, I curled up under the tree with my favorite cat. And it smelled and looked and felt like the most wonderful hiding place in all the world. She provided a magical whimsical escape from the world.

She knows and sees such intimate moments of a life. There, shining and majestic, very  large and looming this particular year, as if a foreshadowing of a life-event which changes a family forever. The phone rang, I sat and stared at her green beauty and my tears puddled, my eyes blurred, I couldn’t see through the wet joy.

A baby had been born.

And he was coming into our family. A son, adopted. Lives changed forever. And the tree was up early that year. So a bassinet and a baby boy are rolled under her long limbs, evergreen protectors like a mother’s arms, for first pictures. A baby at home on December 2. Prayers answered. And the tree sees the lives transformed.

There were late sleepless nights when she was a cool calm friend. Walking the floors in the wee hours from worry or stress or menopause, and a lit tree calmed like a hot bath. The tree and I. And a  quiet sleeping house.

Her fragrance, her evergreen beauty and regal stature whether she is grand or charliebrowntreeesque (this  word is not in the Scrabble dictionary, but it needs to be) are barometers of family life. You can read down and up and out and back, as a record book of family details and milestones.

What would we do without her.

So I would offend her,  as any mother would be, if I chose a favorite ornament. It would be almost like singling out a child from the nest as the favorite. Mom’s heart holds equal love for each one of her babies.   But you can bet that more often than not, it’s the meek, the humble, the rudimentary that take up the most space in the heart.

The ornament that is made in love, with love, pointing to love , witnessing love, and marking love, through the years, through the Christmases.

And through the trees.

What new stories will she gather up with her branches and hold fast in her evergreen arms.

What love will she witness, what new life will she bury in the quiet recesses of her archives.

Ripe with living, ripe with love.

Green and growing, families through the years.

ornament one

Joining Amber and a great group of writers at The Run A Muck for Amber’s concrete word prompts. Today it is Ornament.


And I am joining Laura for Playdates At The Wellspring.


8 thoughts on “On The First Day The Tree Went Up The Memories Flooded In

  1. Christmas trees are wonderful. They warm us with the lights and the memories of our families. Enjoy your season of the tree, lights, memories and the anticipation of our Savior’s birthday celebration. DAF

  2. I, too, was thinking as I wrote this morning of those humble ornaments. I would like my girls to make more this year, so their handiwork covers more of the tree. I love how you describe this upside down economy of the tree. Again, a powerful metaphor.

  3. Because of my health around ‘real’ trees we now have a ‘costco’ prelighted fake one. It is beautiful and plenty big for all the fragile ornaments and all the whimsical and all the homemade with love ones. I think it is all in our perspective. I am happy to breathe well and still make wonderful memories.

    1. Oh I so understand. We had a beautiful white tree one year from KMART. I loved it. It was beautiful. I am glad you are breathing well. My husband suffers from allergies from our dogs and we have three. I am beside the tree gazing at all the ornaments. There are some I put up every year that are broken, and I hide them in the branches. There are so many pottery pieces even that hang heavy on the limbs. And there are needlepoint ornaments too. Yes yes the whimsy the fragile the homemade with love. They are all beautiful. Laden with a mix of beauty. Laden with memories.

  4. Hi Elizabeth
    This is one of those posts that make me want to put my pen and paper away. It is mysteriously beautiful. I think our Pappa God loves heart trees with ornaments of humility, kindness and love, don’t you think. I am so glad you linked up and blessed us with these words. Thank you.

  5. I have no idea how you do this Elizabeth. Each post is so very beautiful, deep and rich. So thoughtful. So exactly right. You are gifted indeed my friend. Loved the tree as the historian. My goodness. Beautiful.

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