Saturday, December 11, 2010

Trees and things

Growing up we had glorious Christmas trees. My parent's home had vaulted ceilings, so our trees would be 8', 9', and 10' tall! We were all about the ornaments too. One year my mom, brother and I hand made Christmas ornaments with each of my cousins names on them. Did I mention I have 41 cousins?! One per cousin. Plus aunts and uncles. It was a really full tree that year.

Also, Lebanese people really know how to take the Nativity scene to a whole new level. Not just a simple set of ceramic statues here. I'm talking crinkled newspaper as faux mountain terrain, mirrors with sprayed snow for the ice skating rink effect, and patches of trimmed wheat germ and sprouts for the grassy knolls. When Christmas rolled around, our living room was transformed into a winter wonderland.

So, the year my parents divorced, my brother and I were pretty devastated that we weren't getting a tree. So much so, that my dad actually caved in and purchased one of those living trees. It was literally 2 feet tall and still in the pot. We cried even harder. Looking back, I realize it was probably more than just the tree, but as a 3rd grader and 7th grader, respectively, my brother and I could only articulate our sadness about the tree. We did our best to love that tree, decorating it was some lights and ornaments. My dad even put it on a chair and covered the chair with a blanket to give it some height. 

Well, after Christmas passed, my dad planted that tree in our front yard. During those 4 years that my parents were divorced, that tree watched lots of life happen at our home while it grew. Those were crazy years, as my brother and I were living in between three homes at the same time, this one, my mom's, and my aunts. In some ways, that tree was the most constant thing at our home those years. 

Then a miracle happened. My parents reconnected. They began talking again. They spent more and more time together. They fell back in love and remarried each other, putting an end to their 4 year separation. My mom moved back in. My brother and I eventually graduated from high school and then college. Later my parents ended up moving into a new home. My aunt and uncle bought that house from them. They still live there today.

All the while, the tree kept growing.

Today, as I was working on Christmas Cards and verifying addresses and zip codes, I looked up my old home on Google Maps. And there I saw that itty bitty tree was all grown up. It's unbelievable to see how full, healthy and humungous it is! Looking at it now, you would never have believed it's humble beginnings.

I remember one year, when the tree had grown to about 6 or 7 feet, we considered chopping it down and using it as our Christmas tree that year. My parents had gotten back together and we thought it could be a cool symbol of our family being together again. I can't remember why we never did. But I'm really glad we didn't. 

I know that seeing that baby tree, I had enough faith to imagine it would one day grow up to be an average sized Christmas tree. It would just take time. But I don't know that I would have ever imagined that runt of a thing would one day be taller than my house! Much taller.

When I see that tree now, I see a symbol of fortitude.

When I see that tree now, I am reminded of the power of forgiveness.

And when I see that tree now, I laugh a little at the fact that I can still go to my childhood home, anytime, and see my little tree, because it's still in the family. 


Teri said...

I love this story. And what a tree!
I got a little weepy...

Dixon said...

Wow. Thanks Lay. Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing a part of your story, Layla! We love you the more for it!

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