This past week, I went over to my Dad’s house and helped him set up his tree. I don’t know what tree trimming looks like in your family, but, growing up, it was a BIG DEAL in my house. We would all pile into the van and pick out the perfect tree from the lot (usually not without lots of fighting and more than a few tears). Then, we’d wait impatiently while my Dad applied flame retardant to it (smart man) and set it out to dry overnight.
The next day, we’d be counting down the hours until decorating time. My Mom would pull out yummy Christmas treats and we’d attack the tray of cookies and wassel while my Dad put on festive music. Then, we’d slowly pull out each ornament, each of us eager to claim our own. We’d ooh and ahh, sharing stories it brought to mind, and then carefully place it on the tree.
Every year, my Mom would also pick out a new ornament for each of us, wrapping it in a festive box with a note taped to the inside of the lid. We couldn’t wait to see what she had chosen for us. At the time, I remember thinking her notes with verses of Scripture included were a little silly. But, over the years, these pieces of paper have grown so precious. They enrich the tree-trimming experience as we read her thoughtful words.
This year though, she’s not home to enjoy tree trimming, or any other festivities for that matter. My Dad had to make the heartbreaking decision to move her into a nursing home in early 2013. And, while she’s receiving phenomenal care there, she’s still there—not at home with her husband of thirty-plus years.
When I asked my Dad if he’d be okay with me coming over to decorate, I could sense his hesitation. It was going to be painful hanging those ornaments without his best friend. But, he gamely agreed. And, you know what? It wasn’t nearly as cheery and festive as it had been in years past. But, it wasn’t awful either.
We put on music, brewed some decaf, and made fun of the goofy ornaments in my parents’ collection. All in all, an okay night. In seasons like this, when heartache is intensified and loss magnified as you see other families celebrating together, I think an okay night is actually a really big win. We’ll take it.
Which okay moments are actually big wins for you this holiday season?