The last step to decorating the Christmas tree is putting the tree skirt at its base. After the garlands and the ornaments are hung and perfectly placed, it's the very last thing to do. And since the tree skirt I have belonged to my mother, it's something that evokes much emotion and feeling within me. Seeing it there makes me feel like I still have a piece of her around at Christmastime.
When I got married to Todd, my dad let me have it for myself. It feels like a treasure and I hold on to it tightly, because memories of my mother at Christmas are some of the most precious that I have.
Christmas was the time of year that she came to life in ways that she wasn't alive the other eleven months of the year. She made things extra special and extra fun and extra magical. As a grown woman, I find that I'm a lot like her in that regard. I purpose to make parties and gifts and decorations with that extra something. Not because I'm trying to be like my mom. But just because I am. It's part of what makes me me. And it's a place where I am proud to be like my her.
I still remember the year that she made that tree skirt. I was probably ten years old. I remember going to the fabric store when she selected which materials she would use to make it. She pieced together squares of Christmasy fabric and sewed a cute ruffle on the edge. I remember she stressed quite a bit about it - I'm pretty sure she got angry and cried some tears trying to figure it all out. I think it was a challenging project for her as sewing wasn't exactly her forte. She ended up mastering it though, and it was so lovely.
It is still lovely.
As a girl, I can remember putting it around my waist and spinning in it, pretending that it was some grand Christmas skirt and I was off to a fabulous party. I remember playing that game with my sister when she was a little girl too. In all honesty, I've actually done that as a grown adult. I've put the tree skirt around my waist and I have a spin and just for a moment, I am ten again.
But shhhh. Don't tell anyone that. It would be embarrassing if that secret ever got out.
This year as I've sat on my sofa gazing at my tree, it's felt like my tree skirt doesn't really fit. And it has traditional colors and it's cute, but it just doesn't feel like me It doesn't go with my pretty mesh garland or the fun sprigs I have at the top of the tree rather than a star or an angel. And it doesn't go with a lot of my decor either.
My style in my home has changed a lot in the last year or so. I've felt like I've been growing up and growing out of things. I grew out of my sunflower motif at home and changed everything a few months ago. I think it's felt true for me in several places this year - where I feel more grown up or just new and it has translated into a blog name change and home decorating and clothing choices and so on.
And the same feels true for the tree skirt. I feel like I've grown out of it. I think that maybe, I've even grown out of needing this piece of my mom in my home at Christmas.
For years now, I've needed that visible and tangible reminder of her around for the holidays. I wanted to honor and remember her in that way. Maybe even part of me felt like I had something to prove - that she still mattered to me. Or that I hadn't forgotten the woman she was before the divorce and the alcohol destroyed who she really was. And maybe now, almost twelve years after her death, I am starting to allow myself to let go of some of the things. Because I don't need the tangible things as much as I used to.
Because the woman she was - in all of her liveliness and beauty and creating is still very much alive in me.
This time next year I hope to have something new and something very me that I've made myself for our tree. I have a few ideas and I'm sure my mom would be thrilled that I'm putting her antique away and creating something that feels more like myself. I know that in creating something new, I am still honoring the memory of her.
This will be the last year that my mom's tree skirt graces our family Christmas tree. I will hold on to it and treasure it and lock it away with some of my other heirlooms. That's what it is now isn't it? An heirloom.