The Glow Of My Christmas Tree

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


It's nearly 2:00 a.m. and I'm exhausted. I want to go to bed but I can't. I won't let myself.

Light snowflakes are just starting to fall from the sky and it's one of those perfect winter nights where it's not completely dark outside, but it looks more like a light grey sheet has been cast over everything.

I'm sitting in the warm glow of my Christmas tree and Frank Sinatra is singing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas in the background. Other than Old Blue Eyes, the house is as calm and quiet as it looks outside and I'm sitting alone. Just me and the tree.

I'm making myself stay up because the moment is too good to let go of right now.

This happens to me every year once the tree goes up, this weird desire to stay up extra late just to be in its company for as long I can. The season feels fleeting to me before it arrives, I've always felt this way about the holidays. Christmas turns me into a hopeless romantic in the best/worst kind of way. You can judge my sappy sentiment, I don't mind.

But even as I write this I know it's not just my tree I'm trying to soak up. It's everything. It's the Bing Crosby songs and the McCallisters running through the airport. It's the wreaths on doors and the glowing lights outlining every house. The apple spice floating in the air and the black iron fences wearing green scarves of garland on every block.

All of those things make me feel like I'm wrapped in a warm blanket of nostalgia everywhere I turn. And it makes me so happy.

But there's also this feeling of sadness that sneaks in this time of year as well. I can't pinpoint what it is exactly, but I know enough to realize that nostalgia never travels alone.

And perhaps sadness isn't even the right word. Because when I think of being sad I often think of feeling empty. And right now what I feel is anything but empty.

I feel Christmas from ten years ago just by hearing Run Run Rudolph on the radio. I taste my childhood when I eat a peanut butter cookie with a chocolate kiss in the middle. When I touch my gold handprint ornament on my parents tree that I made when I was in second grade I remember everything about the day I put my small hand in the mold.

Year after year when that ornament would come out I would stick my fingers in it to see how much bigger my hand had grown. It was like my time stamp. First my finger tips no longer fit. And then my fingers. And at some point my palm folded over it completely. Like my hand had never been that small in the first place.

It's as if this is the one time of year when I force myself to slow down and catch my breath- usually in the middle of night in the glow of my tree... And when I do, I'm reminded how fast time goes. How fleeting not just this season is, but everything. How everything changes so quickly from one year to the next. And how the small things in life secretly grow into the big things without our notice, or even our permission.

The memories that feel like they happened just a few years ago are actually already twenty years behind me.  The Christmas mornings from my childhood when I would run down the stairs before the sun had even risen to see what Santa brought me just keep getting further and further away. So each year I clutch on to them a little harder.

It's not just the handprint that worked as my time stamp, but it's all of Christmas when I really think about it.

And so maybe that's where the longing comes in, the urge to hold on to these moments a little longer. Because I know if I don't, they'll be gone.

And twenty years from now this will be one of those "Christmas memories" I look back on and wish I could relive, if only for a night or two sitting by the glow of my tree in my tiny Chicago apartment.


*I wrote this over a series of a few weeks because I was nervous it's way too corny to publish (and IT IS) but whatever, this is what the holidays/watching Christmas movies every night does to me. So I'm EMBRACING IT!

39 comments:

  1. Embrace it! Everything about Christmas is corny but we are all in it together haha.

    Http://www.cultureintheory.com

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  2. Taylor, this is beautiful, poignant and so true. I feel exactly like this every year. It's a feeling I can't describe or contain or figure out how to put into words. Yet you did. If this is corny, keep it up.

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  3. I like this side of you!!! You can tell you worked hard on this, this is one of those posts that really should go viral. Cheers to Christmas!

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  4. I feel like I could have written this myself - you captured exactly how I feel this time of year. Beautifully bittersweet.

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  5. No such thing as too corny at Christmas! I loved this. Beautifully said, and I agree there's a tinge of sadness at Christmas time I feel too, like the world moves too fast and another year passing is proof of it. I need to take time and soak up a few extra moments this year!

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  6. Love this post - you captured exactly how I feel about staying up late with the Christmas tree lights on!

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  7. OMG yes i can totally relate. I feel like each christmas i get further away from my childhood. So glad i'm not alone in this tho!

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  8. I absolutely love this!! I always get extra sentimental and nostalgic around Christmas time. This puts into words something I always feel around this time. Time really does go by too fast, so thanks for the reminder to really cherish it this year.

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  9. Maybe we all need a little corny in our lives!

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  10. I don't think this post is corny. But maybe because I can relate to it so well.

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  11. One of my favorite posts you've ever written. I have that feeling now too.

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  12. I think this was great!!! And it's so true.. maybe we love the holidays so much because of the feeling of nostalgia... those peanut butter cookies with the kiss in the middle are my childhood too. This wasn't corny at all, I think it captures how most of us feel... and now I want to sit up late and look at my tree and reflect too. Thanks for reminding us all to slow down and savor. :-)

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  13. I love love loved this, thank you for posting!

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  14. You know the last Christmas before I got married I got really sad. I was hanging out with my little brother in the playroom. We were watching like family guy or something and falling asleep and I got this pang of sadness. Not because I didn't want to get married, but I knew things would be different. And they ARE! Not in a bad way either, but I don't sleep in the playroom anymore :/

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  15. You captured the feeling perfectly. Not too corny at all!! And even if it is, that's just all part of the Christmas spirit. ;) But seriously. Loved this.

    xo

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  16. "And how the small things in life secretly grow into the big things without our notice, or even our permission." GIRL you got me cryin into my cup of sweet tea. #butreally

    I love this.

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  17. This isn't even corny, it's simple, beautiful truth. I love your usual satiric style but this really shows what a great writer you are! Really enjoyed it :)

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  18. I think this is beautiful, and so glad you shared it. I feel the same way you do and am trying to embrace what's left of the season. You articulated my thoughts perfectly!

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  19. I wanted to wait until I got home to read this but I got bored on my lunch break so I decided to read it now. I started to get teary and my nose got all runny. Not a good look. Anyway, this post is PERFECT. it is Christmas as an adult, in a nutshell. Definitely not corny!

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  20. I absolutely love that you wrote this! I feel the same way about Christmas! I get way nostalgic and I can basically cry at the thought of some memory popping into my head. Just yesterday I was sitting at my desk at work thinking about things, and all of a sudden there's tears welling up in my eyes, it was happy tears but still! Like who am i?! Girl I get you!

    Embrace it! I love it!

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  21. I swear that my Grandma always warned me that the years flew by the older I got and I wish she wouldn't have been right. Every day I come home from work and sit here for a good 10-15 minutes and just take in Christmas. I look at my tree and light a candle and just chill out. It may sound silly, but it feels good to be able to have a nice tree to look at and I get all sappy thinking about how awesome life is. Love this post!

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  22. I wanted to wait until I got home to read this but I got bored on my lunch break so I decided to read it now. I started to get teary and my nose got all runny. Not a good look. Anyway, this post is PERFECT. it is Christmas as an adult, in a nutshell. Definitely not corny!

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  23. This is not a corny post. I really enjoy the more introspective writing on this one. It is well-written.

    Though I don't feel a lot of nostalgia around this time or stay up late in front of a Christmas tree, the holidays, being a "landmark" time, allow for introspection and reflection. I feel the same way around the Jewish High Holidays in September, but with the thought-provoking melodies of the liturgy as the prime, rather than a tree.

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  24. And then you have children and that feeling deepens only to create experiences that they too will cherish.

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  25. Honestly this made me a little teary! Sometimes the feeling of nostalgia is simply paralyzing and I wish I could stop time and hold on to happy holiday moments longer.

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  26. This is Christmas for all adults who don't lie to themselves. I, too, find myself chasing after that holiday feel I had as a kid, but no matter how many cookies I eat or decorations I put up, there's always that little bit of magic missing. It's just growing up, but thankfully that cathartic glow of the Christmas tree is there to transport us back to the simpler times each and every year. And with much luck, that feeling will never fade.

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  27. Yeah this post was written in a way that meant that I could picture the scene. I love this time of year, I love having quiet time in a silent house to just sit back and enjoy a Christmas movie

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  28. Aww, this is awesome. It is definitely important to reflect and appreciate past memories.

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  29. This was a beautiful post that we can all relate to! I have those same ornaments that bring back a ton of great memories!

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  30. This definitely pulls on some heart strings! I feel the same way - I say good night to my Christmas tree out loud every night! Love that you embraced the sappiness and posted this :)

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  31. So, so true. Well said, Taylor!

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