Today, we finished decorating our Christmas tree. This year it was a multi-step process. David has been talking about putting up the Christmas tree since we had our first and to date only very brief snowfall of the season. Consequently, the little tree in his room went up several weeks ago.
Michael and David assembled the big tree for our family room last weekend—before Thanksgiving, even, but David has been persistent. Since David can read all of the color words, Michael had him read the instructions and look for the color coding on the metal tip of each branch, count and sort them into piles. The lights are my job, which I finished in the afternoon. David seemed pleased with our progress, so we decided not to add the ornaments right away.
Yesterday was to be the big day. I was looking forward to it because last year was the first year that David seemed to take notice of Christmas. He commented as neighbors put up Christmas lights, called my attention to decorations or displays that he liked and wanted to be a part of putting the ornaments on the tree.
Michael brought the boxes up from the basement and I opened the first one, eager to unpack my favorite ornaments. Back when we were young and frivolous, Michael and I would exchange ornaments when we put the tree up. Usually, they were purchased at a local jewelry and gift shop, the only stipulation being that they had to be dated, a chronicle of Christmases past.
I started to put ornaments on the tree, encouraging David to join me, but each ornament that I placed on a branch was quickly removed by David. The more we talked about decorating the tree or tried reasoning with David, the more agitated he became. About that time Andrew asked if he could return to the basement and Michael and I, both confused, decided that we needed regroup.
David and I had a serious conversation later in the day. He had a tree in his room and he did not need to have ornaments on that tree, I reasoned, but the big tree is Mama's and I am going to have ornaments on my tree. He reluctantly agreed and we left the tree for one more day, naked except for lights and the angel on top, which believe me David would have already removed if we had turned our backs long enough to allow him to assemble the leaning tower of ottomans and end tables that might have gotten him close to the tree top.
We came home from church this morning and made our second attempt. After a rocky start, David seemed agreeable and we started putting ornaments on the branches. I was not convinced that he wouldn't wait for us to let our guard down and then strip the tree back to the plastic bristles. Consequently, we left all of boxes marked Wedgewood and Waterford untouched and used primarily indestructible ornaments from the bottom of the box, ornaments usually reserved for the boys' trees in their rooms. The shimmer and sparkle has been replaced by crochet and rick-rack, the handcrafted with the homemade.
The tree was a compromise. Christmas is always a compromise with David. He wants nothing to do with Santa Claus, so I have no picture of David to put by Andrew's Santa pictures on the bookshelf. He does not really like presents, so I have given up the idea of needing to spend an equal amount on both boys. He enjoys the lights, listens to his favorite Christmas music and appreciates simple reminders of the season without all the fuss, so the decorations are scaled back. He likes his routine and refuses to submit to the frenzy of the season.
Today is the first Sunday in Advent, which came from the Latin adventus meaning "coming." I sat in church this morning and listened to themes of waiting and preparation when it hit me. I spend a great deal of time and energy trying to pull David into my world.
But in this instance, wouldn't it be better if I stopped leading and decided simply to follow?