December 23, 2010
My daughter made me cry last night. I'm not even kidding. We were all together, having a great time decorating the tree, each kid hanging their own ornaments. Each of us, each year, get a new ornament to hang on the tree, and one of our favorite things is to reminisce as we're decorating--where we got each one, who gave it or who made it, what significance it holds.... It's one of our best family traditions. So there we are, in the midst of all that feel-good Christmasy spirit, when Bree turned to me and carelessly, cavalierly, said, "Hey Mom--when we pack these back up this year, can we package up a separate box so that I can take mine with me?
For a second I thought, "Take them with you where?" And then it hit me. She's going to be gone next . No longer a regular inhabitant of our household. Sure, she'll come home, but her place will be elsewhere. Her tree and her ornaments will be elsewhere. It's beginning, and I'm not ready for it.
"I am not trying to have this conversation right now!' Bree turned and looked at me, a little bemused, laughing a little at her overly sentimental mama. "Look! You're making me cry!"
"But Mom," she said. "They're MY ornaments, right? They do get to go with me, right?"
Yes, child. Yes. That's why I started the tradition in the first place, so that when you went off to college, and your brother and sister after you, you wouldn't have to start your own traditions, your own decorations, all over again. You would be able to take a bit of home and a little bit of your Christmas memories with you. Yes. I understand all that. I planned all that, in fact. But here, today, it struck me how close it is. How real it is. How soon it is. She needs her independence, her chance to grow and explore the world on her own. Oh, I know it's going to happen, and that it should happen. That's not going to make it any easier on me. I'll probably have a bigger adjustment than she will when she actually moves out.
"I am not trying to have this conversation right now! Let's finish getting this tree decorated." She giggled at me again, laughing at my sentimental foolishness. But she turned to hang more ornaments on the tree, content to let me keep my little girl for a little while longer, for this year, at least.
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