When I was up at the school helping Olivia's class do a project during their Holiday party, I had a moment there I saw "What Could Have Been". The kids were filling the inside of glass ball ornaments with acrylic paints and rolling them or shaking them to make pretty marbled designs. They were allowed to choose two colors, but when I made the rounds a little girl in her class insisted on only using white. I asked her a couple time if she was sure she didn't want to add another color, and she insisted that she only. wanted. white. Okay. Who am I to mess with someone's artistic vision, right? So once the ornaments were complete, I went around with some glitter paint pens and wrote each child's name on their beautiful keepsakes. When I got around to this little girl, I asked her if she would like red, gold or silver paint for her name. Without blinking, she said, "silver." I asked if she was sure, because silver on white might not show up every well, and wouldn't she prefer one of the other colors. She told me no, that she HAD to have silver. "What do you mean you have to have silver?", I asked her and she turned to me and said, "My mom only allows white or silver ornaments on our tree. If I want to hang it up it has to be white and silver." Oh. My. Gosh. It broke my heart. I had a moment where I wondered how many ornaments and things had she brought home that didn't make the cut? Was 2nd grade the year when she wasn't going to let it happen again? And the thing was: there was serious potential that that could have been my kid.
When I was in my early 20, and before I had children, I had great visions of what my own personal Christmas trees would look like. When I lived with Alyshia, we did "A Few Of My Favorite Things" tree, compelte with hot chocolate packet and concert ticket ornaments. The next year, my girlfriends and I did an "Everything Shiny" tree with tons of Mexican tin ornaments (it helped that they were about $1 a piece at the fabulous folk art store down the street) and anything else we could find that fit our college kids budget. We made ornaments out of our favorite pictures of us and with our neighbors, who we shared the holiday with. The decor was always really reflective of where I was in my life, and what I loved...
Before I was married, (and my mom loves to remind me) I proudly proclaimed that one day, I would have a beautiful theme tree done up just how I wanted it. At that point my mom pointed out that one day I would be faced with a bunch of green painted popcicle-stick christmas trees and hand-print reindeer ornaments. What would I say then to my child hoping to hang their hand-made creations on my "theme" tree? she teased. My heart-less-child-less-at-the-time-response: "This tree has a theme and theme is not crap." Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh- what a mean non-Mommy I was!!! So of course, when Miss O brought home her first little tiny precious face in the middle of a finger-painted ceramic present ornament, I melted and couldn't hang it on the tree fast enough.
People always say, "Just wait til you have children!" and you can never really understand what they are telling you until you do. You would do anything for them: You will gag while you peel the cover off of those tiny Vienna sausages because that's all they will eat for two weeks straight- but they don't like the skin. You will sleep on the floor and hold their little hand for nights on end while they get used to sleeping in a Big Kid bed even though you can hardly stand up straight the next day. You'll let them breath their toxic germs on you when they have the stomach flu and the only way you can get them to sleep is in your bed next to you. You'll drive 30 minutes back to their preschool and bribe the janitor to let you in after you've just arrived home after a long days' work only to discover that you have left their favorite blanket there. You will drive to every store on the planet to buy a silly toy because it keeps a dream alive. And you will most certainly hang their ornaments on your tree.