Thursday, December 31, 2009

New memories made with toddler-proof tree

Post-Crescent column: Dec. 19, 2009

For the past couple of winters, my husband, Josh, and I have been trying to embrace a more child-friendly way of putting up and decorating a Christmas tree.

Our toddler daughter Mihret has had no problem getting her arms around what to us is a major change in tradition.

When we first got married about 10 years ago, we delighted in heading to Wal-Mart and picking out our first boxed evergreen. We'd each brought ornaments to our new home and couldn't wait to see them up on the tree.

Every Christmas after that, when the tree was twined with tinsel and lights, we'd turn back the years with our decorating. Each trip around the tree with a carefully chosen ornament in hand was like another step down memory lane.

We good-naturedly bickered over where to display the toilet-paper-tube-and-glitter cylinder that Josh crafted as a preschooler. We hooked and hung the glass balls that are heirloom ornaments from his family.

From my box, I pulled out a unicorn, a praying girl and others I'd received as gifts while growing up.

The bookworm that reads nestled inside a hollowed-out plastic apple ... the USS Enterprise that perches on a branch ... the theater masks ... the pianos. The tree practically shouts out "Patterson." One by one, the ornaments reveal the days of our lives, first apart and then together.

Because Mihret, who's very curious, still puts lots of little things in her mouth that aren't food, our tree won't see the light of day until next year.

Our replacement is a plush tree with oversized, colorful buttons. Recently, we helped Mihret loop plush nativity and winter-themed figures around the buttons.

I miss curling up on our couch and staring into the Christmas lights. But I have to say it warms my heart to watch Mihret hugging her very own little tree.

By Kara Patterson, Post-Crescent staff writer/

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