"Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever
happen to one again." -Willa Cather
This year's model is a scrappy girl, with an oddly rectangular shape and some rather large gaps between the tiers of branches. But I love her for her straight spine and lovely airiness.
More than the first day of the year, or my birthday, or even Christmas morning, my heart best measures the passing of time according to the day each year that our Christmas tree goes up.
Over the past few years, we've finally managed to tame the once-hectic process - no one cries anymore, no one needs a nap or a diaper change or a time out to calm their teenage temper. In the course of a few hours, we can now go from wrestling the tree into its stand to putting the star up on top, and even getting the boxes back into the garage in a calm, orderly manner. We have indeed become a rational, efficient Christmas tree machine.
But oh, how my heart fills with the memories of years gone past.
As my thoughts skim back over the decades, I ride the waves of emotion that carry me from my own childhood into my daughters' lives, the years of my young adulthood and early married days - sights and sounds bring my whole life forward in my mind.
And while the memories are overwhelmingly positive, there is a bittersweet edge to my heart songs.
This is my life.
I can feel the weight of it in my hands, I can smell it in the pine branches and see it in the lights.
This is what my life looks like.
It has taken shape.
And no matter what the future holds for me, these years, these memories of putting up Christmas trees, year after year after year, will always be mine.
So, one more time, let's sweep up the last two thousand pine needles and comfortably crash onto the couches to admire our handiwork. Once again, the Streicher Family Christmas tree is up and I am ready to celebrate another year's success!