Christmas Tree-Dition


1st Xmax orniment

Our “first Christmas together” ornament from 20+ years and way too many pounds ago!

Each year, early in December, we’d decorate the tree while listening to Trans-Siberian Orchestra and drinking wine. Once the tree was done we would sit in front of the fire, finish off the wine, admire our tree, and reminisce with stories brought to mind by various ornaments.


The first year after Phil’s death I wasn’t sure whether to put up a tree. Especially since I was going away the week of Christmas. My sister Cynthia and nephew Christopher were staying with me so Christopher agreed to help with the tree. It turns out he loves Trans-Siberian Orchestra, too. He listened patiently as I told him the story of each ornament. Then he added a couple NASCAR ornaments of his own. Cynthia gave me some adorable ornaments of chubby mermaids drinking Margaritas to commemorate our almost-weekly Friday night Mexican dinners. Adding their personal touches to the tree warmed my heart.

When I returned from London I brought back a Big Ben ornament. My heart was broken but I was moving forward, starting new traditions, and making new memories. Adding new ornaments was a good idea.

The year that I sold “our” house and moved into a condo I gave away my big artificial tree and most of the decorations except for the commemorative ornaments. I didn’t know what my new life would look like but I figured a big tree, all by myself, would be a big hassle.

Then I met Josh. He lived in my building and, although I’m about the age of his mother, we quickly became friends. Josh loves to decorate and helped me arrange my new home. “Right here is where your Christmas tree should go,” he said one day while standing in front of my window. “A slim tree would be perfect here,” he continued. I told him about the special ornaments and my memory tree. He agreed to help decorate.

Soon we were shopping for a new slim tree and a few new decorations. I found some burgundy ribbon with animal print swirls. It’s so “me!” Guess what? Josh likes Trans-Siberian Orchestra. He decorated the tree with the flair of an artist while we drank wine and I told him the story of each ornament I unwrapped. Here I’d thought the tree-trimming would be lonely in my new home and now, with a new friend, it was fun again.

The following year Josh brought a friend to help decorate. A few neighbors came to watch. We all oohed and ahhed at how beautifully they adorned the tree. They made a huge bow for the top with my animal print ribbon. We even changed the music this year and switched to something more modern that the guys liked. It was joyous.

As I look at the tree my eyes wander from ornament to ornament remembering where and when I bought each one. The more recent ones also signify bringing “our” old tradition forward into “my” new life. Old traditions blending with the new. Remembering the past, savoring the present, and looking forward to the future.

(NOTE: This is an excerpt from my new book, “Build a Life You Love After Losing the Love of Your Life” to be released in January 2016.)

  • What about you?
  • What traditions will you carry forward from your life as a couple?
  • What will you let go of?

P.S. I let go of traveling to my in-laws for every holiday and hosting my family. Now I get together with my Mama, sister and nephew at a nice restaurant and we don’t have to cook, clean and have way too many left overs!



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