“Can we set it up now? Please? Pretty please?”
Pattu has been at it since early this week. The ‘it’ here referring to our small 4 ft Christmas tree. I stalled with “After Thanksgiving”, “I am tired!”, “Tomorrow?” till I could no longer do it. So, this afternoon after snacks, I gave her the nod and was rewarded with a smile that could light up the universe.
I set her to task running upstairs to get the blanket to cover the table and making sure the living room was free of clutter. Ammu sat on the sofa, a throw over her, watching. She was recovering from a bout of infection and Laddu toddled around getting in the way of everything. I walked downstairs and came back to with the ornaments and extension cords. After waiting around for Saathi, I decided to haul the tree up one flight of stairs myself. Heaving and panting I reached and ripped the box open.
The next hour went past, setting up the base, spreading the branches and hanging tiny ornaments. I sat on the sofa, Laddu by my side as I separated out the tangled mass of ornament hooks. Patiently I threaded each glass ball and passed it on. Ammu joined in and we worked in silence. Then one of them broke into ‘Deck the halls with boughs of Holly’ and the rest joined in. By the time the tree topper went on, the festive air had infected all of us. Saathi offered to string up whatever lights we had outside the house.
He turned the room lights out and I turned the lights on the tree on. The moment was magical, all of us bathed in the glow of tiny winking yellow lights. We huddled, all five of us on a three seater sofa under the tree and were mesmerized. No words were exchanged, yet a lot was said.
This whole tradition reminded me of Deepavali. I miss the anticipation and the shopping and all the chaos for the one morning of celebration. Today with the lights on, the shopping lists ready in my head, I realized it was quite the same. We will count down to the 25th. I will be wrapping gifts and tucking small things into the stockings. I will more than likely bake cookies. As Christmas dawns, we will huddle under the tree and rip off wrapping paper and eat cookies and drink milk and call it a day.