Monday, December 7, 2015
Many years ago, the Christmas season couldn't come fast enough for one little girl. When she and her Dad arrived at the local church lot to pick out a tree, that's when it started. It was always a glorious day... the trees stood straight on their own or leaned on wooden saw horses. Some towered over her, some she could pat on the top, some she could reach around and others, well, they were three times as round as she was. Bright lights twinkled everywhere and Christmas music blared through scarred old speakers at the entrance to the lot. If she were lucky, she might even catch a snow flake or two on her tongue.
She roamed the makeshift trails through the forest of Christmas trees, singing and twirling. Finally, she stopped. Yup, this was definitely the one. She stared up at her father and pointed a hand knitted mitten toward the oh too tall tree. Her father smiled and said, "A bit too tall?" She shook her head, he paid the man and off they drove with the prize tree tied to the roof of the car.
A week before Christmas, the tree stand, lights and decorations made their way down from the attic in the usual parade - bags and boxes of ornaments, the satchel of lights and the new boxes of tinsel and angel hair. Dad brought the tree into the living room after he had secretly trimmed branches off the top and sawed off a bit from the bottom. "To allow the tree to drink," he would say. The rest of the day would be filled with laughter, singing, hot chocolate, and hanging silver tinsel on the tree and on her sisters' heads. The tinsel hung from their hair like silver braids making them laugh even harder. Once the ornaments had lovingly been placed in their usual spots on the tree, Mother would stretch angel hair from limb to limb. Then Father would plug in the lights and everyone "oohed and ahhed" and the season began.
The day after the tree was decorated, a group of small elves arrived, one for each of the three girls. They sat on a cloud of angel hair on top of the television observing the behavior of all throughout the Christmas season. The little girl couldn't touch her elf or he would lose his magic, her mother told her. And so, each morning she would check that he was still there, watching.
When she crept down the old creaky stairs on Christmas morning, he had disappeared. Mama said, "After Santa places all the gifts under the tree, he takes the elves back to the North Pole on his sleigh."
As years went by, the little girl grew up and lost touch with her elf. Christmases went by and she never saw him or even thought about him. And then, one magical Christmas, many years later after her parents had died, she hung an old wreath in her window, the one that had hung on the front door when she was a child. As she opened the box of ornaments that had been moved from her childhood home's attic, she saw a flash. She looked up and there, in all his glory, sat her elf on a copper wind twister in front of the ancient wreath. She laughed and cried at the same time. He hadn't forgotten about her even though she had left him behind.
And so, her elf returns each Christmas season to help the little girl, now a grown woman with a family and home of her own, make new memories and new traditions. But he reminds her constantly of the child who once chose the tree with her Dad and who laughed, sang and drank hot chocolate as she decorated the tree with her Mother and sisters - he brings back all of her childhood holiday memories.
May this season bring you peace, new memories and a return of the excitement that you felt as a child during this time of year.