We set up our Christmas tree today. We usually cut one down from my in-laws Christmas-tree patch, but this year we simply didn’t have the time, and instead got one from our friends closer to town. Unlike the huge, old, larger-than-life Hundt trees, this one was young, slender, and short (granted, it still reached the ceiling). After some perennial bickering surrounding the decoration, we had the tree fully decked in its tinsel glory, as well as put up our usual outside lights – twinkling icicles on the porch roof, multi-colored strand around the deck railing, a stag on the lawn, and another string around the cherry tree outside my kitchen window.
Unsurprisingly, I had little enthusiasm for the whole she-bang, still in shock from last Friday’s horrific, tragic abuse of our freedoms. Making merry in the light of this unfathomable monstrosity felt inappropriate, if not sacrilegious. But, for the sake of our kids, we went ahead and did it anyway. Isn’t that the reason for everything we do?
Every year, I decorate our tree with a motley assortment of ornaments that my mother-in-law and I have been gathering for years – the commemorations of times and places past, stores now closed, and different phases in our lives. In addition to its obvious aesthetic value, my ornament collection is a mind-map of sorts, reaching far into the past.
Unfailingly, we always place a five-point red star at the very top – a somewhat-poignant reminder of my having grown up in the Soviet Union. Back when I was a little girl, the “Kremlin” star just like this one was at the top of every tree we’ve ever had. And although, at an early age, I made a conscious decision to leave behind my tumulus homeland, I knew that no holiday tree in my life would ever be complete without this archetypal symbol of my country’s Communist past.
The year of my wedding, my mother-in-law sought out and purchased this tree-top star for me in a nearby city, so that, in the comfort of my American home – the kind of home I could have never had back in Azerbaijan – I could relive one of the few bright, color-filled highlights of my otherwise literally and figuratively gray and grim Soviet childhood.
Honestly? I am glad that we did all these things today – let the blackness of this darkest time of year – and of our hearts and minds today – be driven back by the lights of Christmas.