I am a Christmas traditionalist in the sense that Brian and I follow the same traditions from year to year, many similar to those followed by my family. Christmas to me is a Catholic affair and very Irish, dating back to the days of the Celtic festival of Alban Arthuan, held during the Winter Solstice on December 21.
Alban Arthuan is an ancient Druidic fire festival. It takes place on December 21st – 22nd, coinciding with the Winter Solstice. The name means “The Light of Arthur,” in reference to the legend that King Arthur was born on the Winter Solstice. Alban Arthuan is also known as ‘Yule’.
The custom of burning the Yule Log was performed to honor the Great Mother Goddess. The log would be lit on the eve of the solstice, using the remains of the log from the previous year, and would be burned for twelve hours for good luck.
Decorating the Yule tree was also originally a Pagan custom with brightly colored decorations hung on the tree, usually a pine, to symbolize the Pagan worship of the sun, moon, and stars – and to represent the souls of those who had died in the previous year. The practice of gift-giving came from the tradition of hanging gifts on the Yule tree as offerings to the Pagan Gods and Goddesses.
Brian and I always travel to this little tree farm in Sebastopol, a small town West of Santa where I saw down our tree. There is a model train set on the farm, where Brian stands for what seems like hours watching the little train make its way through and about this countryside that takes up half a barn floor. It is a good thing he is occupied, because every year I tell myself I will bring my own sharp saw and every year I forget, then get to find out just how weak my upper arms have become.
Lots of sawing – flabby underarms will be sailing in the wind.
Brian always manages to find the most knot embedded tree for me to cut down, after looking at casts of thousands, usually returning me to the first one. Like a typical boy, as soon as the hard work is to start he runs off to see the train set.
So there I am on all fours (men don’t go there), on damp ground looking at the base for a good place to begin to cut with a saw (from the tree place) that can’t cut butter fresh from the microwave. THIS is when I really need a man. I begin the back and forth back and forth back and forth back and forth movement of the saw – three hours later – back and forth back and forth movement of the saw… I now breathe like I am having sex (me on top) so men begin to mingle closer. But none of them offer to help, because they too hate this F***ing part of the Christmas tree tradition!
Finally Brian shows up in time to lie against the tree while I saw, because safety is no longer an issue. I just want to go home before I turn 50. I mean, there are times you do stop and think about getting up and walking away, leaving the tree half cut, tell your kid you are going to Wal Mart (or wherever they are pre cut) and buy one. Eventually with tree in hand I write a hefty check for the privilege of cutting down their tree and we get to go home. You know, this Irish tradition is a little nuts…
Once home when it comes time to prep the tree…my son disappears…leaving me to put it in a water solution. I set the tree up to hose it down to ensure we don’t bring in small black house guests that fly, bite and send me screaming from my bed in the middle of the night. I have dated that…don’t wanna bring it in on a tree…
When it comes time to decorate (after the lights are on) Brian is right there. This is also a tradition handed down from my family – no one at my house liked to put up the lights, so it was always me. So far, this tradition is right on track. Why do people hate to put lights on the tree? Brian begins his handiwork and like all kids hangs 150 ornaments in one three foot round area at his height on the tree. Like a typical parent, when he is not looking I try to spread the ornaments around the tree.
In the end, it is a compromise and the tree is beautiful. Many of the ornaments have memories for us, when he was born and I was still married. Each tells an enjoyable story we relive while we unwrap them. There are the ones that he made over the years, and ones that we bought to remind us of our dreams – like his favorite one that is a two story house just like one that he wants so badly in real life.
I love every Christmas with Brian. It is wonderful to be able to create the joy of Christmas for children. These are memories that will last a life time. Even the one where I say through gritted teeth “If you throw another rock near that car one more time we will go home NOW and I will cancel Christmas”!! As he looks back at me with that boy only “W h a t…”? innocent crap face.
But then he realizes that I am his redheaded mom, and just crazy enough to do it, so he stops…
It is the holiday season…and cops say these are the weeks that people drink the most throughout the year. Could it be parents with more than one kid…?… Women with husbands who want to put Las Vegas on their front lawn in Christmas lights…?…husbands with wives who come home happy that they are giving everyone everything they ever wanted to the tune of maxing out all their credit cards…?
Peace on earth – good will towards men.
Until next time –
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