Our Christmas tree mission was a resounding success last Friday.
After work, I shot home, picked up my wife and we got Jude from day care. It was already cold and our favourite radio station is on 24-hour Christmas music so everything was ripe for our Christmas tree adventure. To top it off , we made a quick stop to Starbuck's for a couple of Peppermint Mochas.
With the exception of, I think, 1999 and 2003, I've always bought my tree from The Metropolitan Plant Exchange. It's close and they always have a good selection and there's always other neat holiday things on display uncluding poinsettias, inflatable yard displays, craved yard displays, an assortment of indoor and outdoor lights, you name it. When we pulled up, Jude said, "Oh my God" and screamed with elation when he saw the thirty foot tall inflatable Santa that stood at the shop's entrance. When he saw that he yelled, "A giant Santa Claus!"
On a budget, we went straight for the less expensive trees that would fit in our flat: 5-6 foot tall Douglas Firs. We examined the selection and found one that just right in terms of height and width. If you've ever gone to buy your own tree, you'll know that they slant when on the racks so you've got to lift it up and give it a spin to make sure it's nice all the way around. This one wasn't bad. Actually, it was good but my wife and I wanted to see if there was another one that might be a little fuller without overtaking our living room. That wasn't a good idea. As soon as I put down the tree we were examining and walked to another aisle with Guada, Jude started to cry. It wasn't a 'spoilt kid, give me what I want' cry. Rather, it was a 'Hey man, that tree is mine. I chose it so why are you putting it away?' You see, as soon as I'd picked it up, Jude was into it. He'd claimed the tree - he calls it his "My green. Like big one." - and anything else just wasn't going to be good enough. This, too, was his first time picking the tree; full of awareness of the season and what we were doing. His other Christmases here in New Jersey, he was less than one (2008) and he wasn't really aware of everythign yet (2009). 2010, we went to The Philippines and didn't do up a tree here.
Just watching him, Guada and I melted. I picked him up and, with my other hand, held the top of the tree and spun it for him. I asked him if he liked it. He nodded, wiped his nose and was relieved that we were getting it. It's his, you see, and he chose it. It's special and, maybe, will be something he'll remember when he's older.
I ran into the store to check out some poinsettias when Guada and Jude had the tree tied onto the car. My wife told me that Jude was giddy watching the man from the store step onto the tires to lay the tree on top of the roof and tie it with his rope. Of the rope, Jude found a connection with the guy. At day care, they'd had a Wild West party and Jude was given a mini lasso as part of their festivities. Perefect! Oh yeah, and as we pulled out of the parking lot, Jude said goodbye to the giant Santa.
When we got home, wow! I ad to mount the tree in its stand, water it and then we put the lights and decorations on. If he was giddy with the tree being put on the car, he crazy loopy with the Winnie The Pooj decorations, his special Tow Mater ornament, the red Christmas ball,everything. The following morning, the first thing he said after waking was to put on the tree. Later that night, after 5:30pm anticipated mass, we attended the church's tree lighting. Again, Jude loved it but he was also defensive of his tree. He liked the one at church but said his is better.
|Jude hanging an ornament|
|Guada and Jude with our tree|
I've always loved Christmas but I'll admit as I've gotten older the season holds less of the carefree, childlike (not childish) joy it used to bring me. I guess that's normal as one gets older with other things to worry about than just what to get for whom and what ask for. However, through Jude, I'm enjoying Christmas with renewed childlike vigour and with an entirely different perspective - as a father who has traditions to pass on. This Christmas, starting with our tree, is going to be different. How, I am not entirely sure but I know it's going to stand out and mean a little more than some of the recent ones we've celebrated. What I do know is that it's all because of Jude.