It started when I moved to Wisconsin. Before that, the Christmas tree was put up the week before Christmas. Once I got to Wisconsin it became paramount that the Christmas tree be set up the Friday after Thanksgiving. Then the official date was moved to Thanksgiving Day - preferably while the dishwasher is running and the kitchen only half cleaned up after The Feast. Now that the girls are once again living with me all things from their childhood are being adhered to with more verve than previously. Our Christmas tree is up for an entire month.
Traditionally, on Christmas Eve the lights are left on all night in anticipation of Santa Claus. No other night of the season are the lights left on ALL NIGHT. The trees were always cut trees. From a parental/homeowner point of view I didn't sleep Christmas Eve night for fear the house was going to catch on fire. I mean really by Christmas Eve, a full 28 to 30 day old sitting in water, like that makes a difference, cut tree with a bunch of warm lights just waiting to heat to a level of smoke and spark and we are all doomed. By the time morning, or first light, or earlier than first light, came around and the kids came stampeding down the stairs it was all spectacular and magical and presents and lights and missing milk and cookies and wondrous. As parents we did good work.
Many years ago I bought a boxed tree. I had moved out on my own and getting a boxed tree was the only way I was assured I would have a tree for many years. I was afraid of lean years and the ability to keep the magic flowing. I was being sacrilegious - yet at the time I truly felt I was "stepping out". I love this tree. Now that I have put it up several years in a row it has become somehow important that this tree, this particular boxed tree, should be erected. It's pre-lit - I love that part. It's white - I love that part too. The girls have taken over the construction of the tree. So we have Christmas at our house already this year. The predominant ornament - origami cranes in various colors. Somehow it seems fitting, maybe you have to know me.
The tree is still never lit ALL NIGHT long. That is reserved for the final special night. So this morning when I got up and walked through the apartment to start my coffee and the tree was still on I was a bit taken aback. I left it that way. It makes a good night-light. As the coffee maker started it's gurgling, I headed for the shower. Thing 2, who's bed since she moved in is the couch, opened her eyes and plaintively said to me, "Santa didn't come last night."
Traditions are good. They are stabilizing. They can confuse even the most steady of semi-adults. I kissed Thing 2 on the forehead and told her to check again in 26 days.