Having another child doesn't affect your life in a linear way, as all parents of more than one child will tell you. That's still true, even when the child is twenty.
Daniel is home for Christmas break, and that means more laundry, more groceries, more cooking, more bickering, more vehicles breaking down so more shuttling...but it also means more laughing, more conversation, more hands to help, and more company.
Tom has been busy helping friends, and TG has been away more than usual, too. I think that's why I didn't feel motivated to decorate the tree until Daniel came home - the idea weighed me down, made me feel like I was walking through water, slow and heavy.
With each ornament I pulled from a box and lifted to the tree, memories tugged at my heart... joy tinted with unexpected melancholy.
But with Daniel here, the melancholy faded. What had felt like a chore became pure joy.
I'm not sure why having Daniel home helped - he didn't actually help me decorate the tree. Except for a few brief years when the kids fought over which ornament they got to hang (and the tree, consequently, was a little bottom-heavy in glitter and color) I've always decorated it by myself, usually late at night when they were all asleep.
But I think just knowing they were there, feeling their presence, anticipating their excitement at the sight of the tree invigorated me.
Perhaps just knowing Daniel is home made it feel more like those days gone by and motivated me to dress my naked tree.
Now it sparkles in memories that are happy, funny, and bittersweet...memories of times that went by too fast...memories easier to face when I know someone else cares along with me.
My Life in Ornaments
Chapter 1 - Childhood: faded blue construction paper star I made and held on to since elementary school; bejeweled and glittered blue styrofoam ball (Girl Scouts); Gingerbread and Winnie-the-Pooh collection Brenda and I bought at Sears, 6th grade, for the first GREEN articial tree we'd ever had (I grew up with an aluminum tree - think vintage 60's - because real trees gave/give me asthma; the year we got a real tree, I spent Christmas Day night in the emergency room; the next year Brenda bought the family one of the first green articial trees - have I mentioned I'm blessed with a wonderful big sister?)
Chapter 2 - On My Own: colorful, glass ornaments, salt-dough Santa and rocking horse
Chapter 3 - Tom: Eskimo and dog in 1981 igloo from our first Christmas; Ziggy from our second Christmas; assortment of others marking special anniversaries and highlights; some hand-me-downs from his childhood tree
Chapter 4 - My Children: Baby's First Christmas 1985...1988...1991...clothespin reindeer and Baby Jesus... glitter, macaroni, beads, construction paper, cinnamon and salt dough... Snow Men, Angels, stars, candy canes, and teddy bears...mementos from pre-school through 8th grade art, cub scouts, girl scouts, choir, and band...vacation in Yellowstone and John's wedding in Mexico...
Chapter 5 - Friends and Family: cats, wreaths, and angels, gifts over the years; the multi-colored snowflakes and kissing Santas that Grandmother crocheted in the nursing home, and the delicate white one Sharon, my sister-in-law, crocheted while battling cancer, knowing it was probably her last Christmas with her husband and baby girls; the crystal bells and the clip-on ceramic bluejay that Bobbie, my old boyfriend's mom, still my friend, bought Tom and me as a wedding present