It's 2am, and I'm putting lights and garland on the tree.
Earlier this evening, it was a mostly joyful and noisy team effort of uncovering boxes and assembling, and tomorrow, after breakfast, we'll put on the bulk of the ornaments.
But right now, it's blissfully quiet.
Everyone else is in bed. Loreena McKennitt is softly playing, I'm drinking eggnog, and I'm reminded of decorating the tree in my first Chicago apartment on Janssen Street in 1995.
That was the year I started my tradition of putting up the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. I usually did it alone, with a glass of wine and Loreena's To Drive the Cold Winter Away. My parents had given me their old Christmas tree, and I bought white lights and a few ornaments (most of which I still have and will put on the tree tonight). I decorated with red apples and cherries, pine cones, and faux crystal snowflakes and icicles.
I loved that tree.
I loved the moment of sitting on the couch in the dark when it was done, the room transformed. I dreamed big by the light of that tree.
It's hard to believe that was almost 20 years ago.
I still love the ritual of decorating the house for the holidays, of creating a space for celebration. Including the kids has its own delight, and I especially enjoy having the house full of family and friends on the holidays.
But I cherish moments like this one--quiet, solitary times that allow me to reflect and remember. It's good to be reminded of the young woman I was back then, to be reconnected with that romantic dreamer.
In the morning, I'll put on my other hats; but for now, it's just me and Loreena and the tree, a meditation on nostalgia and dreams.