When I was at my mother’s house earlier this month, I was told the story of how they almost didn’t find her “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” when unpacking decorations. This little tree was made famous thanks to the Peanuts holiday special that’s been an annual tradition since before I was born. In it, Charlie Brown selects a rather meager natural tree instead of a colorful aluminum one for the school play. The popularity of the show and this little tree, ended the aluminum tree fad instantly and production was mostly stopped by 1967, just two years after the special aired. My mother’s version is not really a replica of the cartoon one by any stretch, but instead, a tiny tree with a few fiber optic branches. What struck me was that out of all of the wondrous decorations she has, this tiny humble tree was a must-have. My sister helped her search box after box, but when the thing isn’t lit it resembles a miniature dark green toilet brush and is therefore rather difficult to spot. Finally, via some holiday miracle, they found the tiny tree nestled at the bottom of the last box. I had missed all of this drama prior to arriving, and simply saw the tiny tree in its usual spot, sending earnest doses of cheer from the corner of the room. And I had to agree. It wouldn’t have been the same without it.
It’s funny how the smallest things become so incredibly important this time of year. We have tiny ornaments that get completely lost in our much larger and more massive tree. But, getting them out and seeing them once again each year is such a joy. Though many of the elements repeat themselves from house to house, the way each family decorates for Christmas is as unique as handwriting. It’s like entering a life-sized scrapbook of memories. Earlier this season, just before Thanksgiving, the large painting over our fireplace mantel came toppling to the floor. Philippe and I were upstairs at the time and the clatter was alarming, like Santa had decided to arrive early and had a bit of a crash landing. After securing it back in place, I was suddenly worried for our mantel decorations and told Philippe that I’d add them after we got back from visiting my family. The painting was still in place when we returned so I added our precious decorations. Then, while we were in the kitchen, we heard the crash. My heart sank. Yet, when I entered the room, the only thing the painting took down with it was the “L” votive of our Noël candles and it was perfectly unharmed. A second little miracle.
The glass of the painting, however, was completely shattered and is indeed much more expensive to replace. But, all I could think about was that little spared votive, and how much more it meant to me. The set wasn’t a family heirloom, but something we simply found on sale one year. That’s the transformative beauty of this season. It’s never about the price of things, but instead, those little unassuming things that have somehow managed to become priceless. Sometimes it’s the tradition of having something on display each year, and sometimes it’s just a feeling that words can’t quite describe. And as Christmas gets closer, I’m certainly excited about the coming gifts, but I would be remiss to ignore the gifts I already have. And sometimes, those can feel even more special. It’s hard to compete with those little things we’ve had for years that tell our unique and special story. And that’s why the holidays don’t really require much to enjoy properly. Sometimes, all it takes is one little tree.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Gold Ochre, Quinacridone Red, Leaf Green, Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta and Ultramarine (Green Shade). Staedtler Pigment Liners in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!