Connie Schultz: Christmas in July—and August and September ...
It began as an act of laziness.
By early January, I had already packed away two of our Christmas trees. Yes, two. And you're about to learn about the third. Don't judge.
One of our trees is an ancient nine-and-a-half-foot-tall fake fir, which goes in our family room every year. It's almost animated—you might even say scary—the way it sways under the weight of all those handmade ornaments stitched, glued, painted, stapled, and baked over the past 30 years.
The other tree, a mere seven feet tall, fills our front window. My husband and I call it the White House Christmas Tree because it is decorated with ornaments issued annually by the White House Historical Association. Sometimes I call it the Rosie Tree, named for my hair colorist, who puts up nine Christmas trees, which she once told me after covering me in foils. Anyone who loves her hair colorist understands how easily we can fall under their spell.
By the way, this year's White House Historical Association ornament depicts President William Howard Taft riding in the back of the White Steamer, which was the first automobile introduced to the White House. See? A history lesson on every branch.
Last Christmas season, I decided to add a third tree. A wee one, barely four feet tall, to keep me company in the kitchen. Along with the "Ho-Ho-Ho" wall hanging I needlepointed in 1998, I mean. And my son's three-tiered Christmas tree mobile, circa 1982, which dangles upside down over the table. We almost lost that thing in the unfortunate candle caper of '94. Goodness, the memories.
I decorated the little tree with white lights and a single red bow at the top, then set it on a child-size chair and wedged it into a corner.
"Really?" my husband said the first he time he saw it. "We needed this?"
One look at my face and his punctuation changed. "We needed this!" he said, patting my back. "Makes the whole room come alive."
I married a good one, I tell ya.
One month later, there I was, at the end of a long day of packing away another holiday, staring at the kitchen Christmas tree. I reached for its red bow, rubbed the felt between my fingers, and pulled back my hand. Too tired, I told myself as I unplugged the lights. Tomorrow.
Only tomorrow never came. A week before Valentine's Day, I looked across the breakfast table at Sherrod and confessed: "I can't explain why, but I don't want to take down the kitchen Christmas tree."
He returned my smile, acknowledging my gift for stating the obvious. "Then don't, honey," he said, shrugging his shoulders. "I like it, too."
With that, it was decided. The kitchen Christmas tree would twinkle its way through the year. Only one person ever asked why.
"Grandma," Clayton said, fingering the branches one hot, humid day in July, "why is this tree still here?"
I looked at our 4-year-old grandson and, just like that, I finally had my answer.
"Because we should act like it's Christmas all year round," I said. "We should feel it every day, in our hearts."
He tilted his head and gave me a long look.
"You're a little weird," he said, smiling. "I like that."
"I love you, too, buddy," I said. "Merry Christmas.
We get the Parade magazine in the Sunday Bellingham Herald now, and they have a small rotating group of writers that have a one page feature toward the back of every issue. I look forward to reading Connie's commentaries, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did - Merry Christmas (everyday)!