Oh Christmas Tree

Well, the excitement of a snow day required some serious focus to contain my children, so I decided it was time to buck up and deal with my first Christmas without my mom, which very soon is going to coincide with the first anniversary of her death.

I worked myself up since Thanksgiving to be ready for the actual setting up of the tree. We have kids who are excited for their first Christmas, and kids who have Christmas as their only good memory from home. I can’t just stall out on the tree.

So tonight, I let them do it.


They did a great job cleaning their rooms and the living room so it would be ready for the tree. This kept them busy for hours while they “played” the game called “house cleaning”. I couldn’t make this stuff up. They came up with the idea, had a blast, and I just sat there.

I am pretty sure that’s illegal.

Except really I helped. We got the tree out of the garage, out of the box, and untangled from its own mess. After four tries, the twins got it put together correctly, and were very proud of themselves.


That left, of course, the leftover pine needles to be vacuumed, so I was able to waste a whole other hour while everyone took one more turn playing vacuum.

Who knew life was so easy with an army of helpers?!


That’s as far as we got, though, for two reasons.

Primarily, I am not emotionally prepared to go through my mother’s ornaments or glittery decorations just yet. It will come, in its own moment, and it will be special and honoring-ish of her.

But I need that moment by myself, first.

And I need room to breathe.

This is not that night.

Secondly, all said and done, they spent almost five hours playing house and working on just getting the tree up.

That meant it was late enough to call bedtime, so we finished all the parental calls and then piled onto the couch to FaceTime Nathan.


We talked to him all together, and the kids danced and did tricks and otherwise delighted in watching video of themselves. They showed him the tree, sang songs, and we talked about the new house and what moving will be like. They each talked to him individually. Then we all kneeled down and had family prayer together before saying good night. They loved it!

They don’t know he has already gotten them gifts, or how hard he worked to save up money to get them souveniers “because that’s part of being a dad on a business trip”.

I really love that guy.

He has our pictures with him, and a busy week ahead. While he settled into his friend’s apartment, I got the kids settled into bed (after some popcorn, naturally). Then Nathan and I got to FaceTime again for just our own visit and prayer. It was so sweet, like our first dates that seem like lifetimes ago.

He was worried about me being on my own, but I told him everything is fine. The baby is in a good mood and sleeping well, and I am keeping the new monitor in my pocket. The kids have been very well behaved, and helped so much tonight that all our chores are done and the house is clean. That means I won’t even care what they get out this weekend, because I know the layer underneath is clean. It makes all of us less stressed and more relaxed.

I am excited to just play and spend time with them.

Tomorrow I have a plan. I took PTO from work, of course, with the snow day, and know they will be excited about the tree. Nathan and I talked about not pushing me having to go through mom’s ornaments, and instead let the kids make all their own ornaments. That buys me time for grieving, while using time constructively on a snow day. It will be so much fun!

I think it will be great, if the kids haven’t already used up all our construction paper!

You never know the mess their “helping” can be, and they make me laugh when they try so hard. Just before bedtime, I found this in the kitchen… Poor vacuum!


About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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