It's one of our favorite family traditions. We pick a night in early December, and let the kids know a few days in advance so they can go nuts with anticipation. On the appointed day, out comes the big green Rubbermaid box. The boys and I put together the artifical tree that we bought (on clearance, I believe) for our first Christmas nine years ago. (You can tell it was an apartment tree because it's about seven feet tall and only two feet wide.) We lug in dusty boxes of ornaments and decorations from the garage. Garland and white lights drape the piano. The nativity set is carefully placed, one piece at a time. All the while, Josh Groban sings Little Drummer Boy and O Come All Ye Faithful.
Finally, evening arrives and Daddy comes home from work. The time has come. Marty opens the tattered boxes, revealing ornaments and memories. There are the icicles that were placed on Marty's parents' first Christmas tree. There is the painted ball from the year I was born. There are nutcrackers, a gift from Marty's dad several years ago. There are little cloth ornaments I received as gifts when I was a child. There are ornaments commemorating our wedding and each of our children's births. The collection grows a little each year, as our family grows. Our decorated tree is a sort of three-dimensional family history.
Daddy passes out the ornaments to their respective owners, who circle the tree jockeying for the best potential hanging location. (What is it about children that makes them want to place every single ornament within one square foot on the tree?) Stories are told and memories are relived. Cookies bake in the oven, and there is always hot chocolate. Always.
This is the "Merry" in Merry Christmas.