Last year we didn’t decorate for Christmas. No tree or wreath or lights. We were in the midst of trying to decide how to best care for my mother. Her dementia was clearly making it unsafe for her live alone and we were out of options. On some level, I knew this would likely be her last Christmas at home. It was hard to conjure a feeling of celebration.
This year we’re wading back into Christmas with peace and joy. The enduring blow mold Santa is glowing on the front porch. There are branches of pine and holly sprigs in crocks and watering cans.
We bought a live pine tree, short and stout. When we got it home we discovered it had a definite lean. We tried a variety of tactics to address the problem. Finally, we settled the tree into an old metal wash pan, doing our best to level the tree by sitting it askew in the pan. The problem was that the old metal wash pan did not sit perfectly flat. To correct for the pan wobble, we put the whole works – the crooked tree and the warped pan – in a bushel basket. Then to disguise the situation, I filled the basket with pine cones. If someone slams a door, stomps their feet, or breathes too hard, that tree is going to topple!
We decorated the tree with tiny white lights, vintage glass ornaments, and old-fashioned icicles. And it truly feels like Christmas is in the air.
It occurs to me that I need this picture as a gentle reminder that it is okay to be happy even when someone I love is struggling. It is okay to be happy even when everything is not perfect.
Isn’t that the burden of art – making both the joy and the pain you feel tangible, visible to your eyes, looking back at you? Therapeutic, but very difficult. –Rebecca Lily