It was that year nobody wanted to talk about… The secret we shared as a family. The year our story changed. The year we moved from the ranch to the city, and there I was, trying to maneuver my way around a 9 to 5 with four kids, surviving on a single para-legal paycheck, when I really would rather be at the ranch, indulging my dual income family.
The apartment wasn’t as small as you might think, but it was less than a quarter the size of our sprawling ranch style home. As far as the kids were concerned life was over, so why bother to celebrate Christmas. Much less did they want to hear about Christmas, giving to others, and being a blessing. However, I was determined. I was determined to help my children write a new story.
When the boss replaced the Christmas tree at the office and gave me a hand-me-down tree, I grabbed the chance to change the mood at home. It meant buying new ornaments on the way home from work, and lugging all of it up the three floors to our top floor apartment, but the cathedral ceilings were more than plenty to house the new 9 foot tall tree. My only concern was the possible diameter of the tree. Imagine my thrill when the tree fit into the same space as an end table! Oh yay! Big win in the space department. And an even bigger win in the story department, because the life we lived, the changes we made were about to inspire our new reality.
Sparkling colored lights nestled deep in the branches and more wound to the ends of the branches, then massive numbers of colored bulbs hanging from each branch. New beaded swags wrapped around the tree, and a colorful star attached to the top were finished decorations. Until. Toe socks came out of my daughter’s dresser to hang on the makeshift mantle of our double bookcase room divider. They were far different from the jewel toned hand sewn stockings that had hung on the mantle the year before. The change was noted, written into our book of life, and thought out as we shifted gears from then to the new lives we were living.
An extra strand of lights were strung through the spires of a floor lamp, where the extra Christmas bulbs were hung. Greenery filled the gaps, and a selection of colorful mittens were filled with candy canes, and hung on the spires of the lamp. Images of our shifting thoughts, changing habits, and life bending moments replaced the sugar plums of yesterday. Candy canes filled any extra spaces on the tree (yeah, the one I thought was complete). And brown paper elves decorated with red and green markers were peeping from behind every cabinet, over every couch, all around the apartment. What started out as a Christmas where the spirit was missing became a jubilant explosion of four amazing young teens grappling with reality and making the celebration their own. Before long, brown paper packages tied with red and green yarn began showing up under the Christmas tree, and laughter filled our tiny apartment. Three bedrooms on the third floor became a sanctuary of laughter, jubilant giggles, and Christmas spirit. Overflowing. That’s what we were, overflowing with seasonal joy. And our apartment sized decor, filled up the spaces in our lives, with fun, laughter and more enthusiasm that I might ever have hoped for – our first Christmas off the ranch. Life changes, new chapters begin. And writing your story becomes a means of sharing who you are, to create value in the lives of others. Come on… Write your story.