Unspoken Joy…More Than a Christmas Tree

Mother’s 75. Her husband Gene is 80. Seeing their ages as I type them, it startles me. Mom has a couple of autoimmune illnesses. Some days her energy gets zapped.  A phone conversation from three weeks ago…

“I’m not putting up a tree this year,” Mother said emphatically. “It’s too much trouble.”

I’m not ready for this. Not yet. “If Jeremy (my brother) will put it up, I’ll help you decorate it.”

“What’s a tree anyway?” she said.

“Remember Christmas of ’82? You said the same thing.”

It was my father’s last Christmas. He died the following July from a brain tumor. Jeremy surprised us and put up the tree by himself.

“I remember the year my mother stopped putting up a tree,” she said softly. “I begged her to get one.”

So you know how I feel.

“Gene said it’s fine with him if we don’t put it up,” she said.

“Is it fine with you not to have one?” Please say no. Say you want a tree.

“Pretty much. I guess.”

My heart was sad for them. For me. But I reminded myself that they’re getting older. Things change.

She called two days later.

“You’ll never believe it! Our tree’s up. A friend said if I didn’t do it this year, I’d never do it again.”


“I took my time decorating it,” she said. “Rested when I needed to.”

I’m so proud of you. “Can’t wait to see it!”

“You coming over for oyster stew like last year?”

 “Of course! Wouldn’t miss it.”


Last Thursday, oyster stew night, I studied her ornaments as though I’d never seen them.

I found my brother Jon’s childhood thumbprint, the jeweled ball I made when I was seven, my sister Jennifer’s two-inch tattered Little Drummer Boy, Jeremy’s popsicle stick star, and Mother’s angels.

After dinner, we sat on her sofa. Still. Quiet. Just looking at her tree.

It’s more than a tree, you know,” Mother said.

I nodded. Some things are too deep for words.

Thank you, Lord. Another Christmas.



I’m praying for readers as I post this blog. Christmas can be a difficult time–especially when we’ve lost loved ones.


  1. Yep. Christmas is hard for many. The stress of the “work” of Christmas, added to the feelings of loss, can create a complicated mix of sorrow, guilt, and depression. I’ve learned I must go into the season prepared to offensively fight against it. And the best weapon is doing for others.
    Merry Christmas, sweet friend!

    • Such wise words of wisdom, Vonda. Doing for others. I love it. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  2. Sometimes the effort doesn’t seem worth the effort. :o} But then I’ve found the beauty of a Christmas tree reminds me of the beauty of the Gift we celebrate.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS, me dear friend!!

    • So true, Ane. I know the feeling. What a lovely reminder of why we do what we do! Merry Christmas to you and yours. So much love, Ane!

  3. I was holding my breath Julie…I’m so glad MBWA put up a tree…and isn’t it sweet of the Father to send someone besides you to urge her to do it!
    loving you~R

  4. A Christmas Tree is so much more than pine branches, needles, and a wonderfully rich scent. It’s memories of years ago: vacation times, just-getting-by times, fun-filled times, every day times. In other words, it’s filled with life.

    Thanks for sharing you and your mom’s memories. Thanks for sharing your lives.
    Hugs & love,

  5. Hi Julie,
    Oh, I can relate! When you can, read my last week’s blog…”Embracing Holiday Grief”. I’m so glad the tree went up!! Cindy http://www.widowspursuits.blogspot.com

    • Julie says:

      Hey, Cindy! I sure will. Thanks for reading and writing me!! xoxo

  6. You said it so beautifully, B.J. It’s filled with life. Thanks for reading my friend. Talk to you soon…I hope. Miss you. xoxo


  1. […] Eve morning, I called Mother. Remember last year, she almost didn’t put up their Christmas tree? I was so relieved when she changed her mind. Well, this year,  she said she kept thinking maybe […]

  2. […] said this before and changed her […]

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