Privilege Blog

Colored Lights, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:11am

This year I’ve got an artificial tree, covered in colored lights and rainbow balls. Not my tradition; Significant Other’s. I got the tree at Walgreen’s, and carried it on the bus back to our city digs. An act of love, plain but not simple.

I am so happy to have found someone I care for enough to relinquish my High WASP aesthetic, no request needed.

Today I’ll set up a grown-in-the-dirt tree, white lit, for my children, most likely with my grandmother’s angel up top. Later next week luxuriate in holiday spirit with my family and kids. For the first time this year my kids are attending as adults, drawing into the Christmas giving for one present, while the young cousins get stuff from grandparents, aunts, and uncle alike.

This year I will see my children more clearly in their giving, rather than receiving. “I like to give my money away,” said my son, as we IMd the other day. However, I reserve the right to indulge in extra Mom presents. Of course.

Things just change in life, that’s how it works. Some people prefer the tried and true, the routine. I understand. We’re all different. But most any time I get melancholy I can startle myself into a tiny rapture by paying attention. I find my way forward most often via a conscious waiting for the sadness to pass through, and a parallel close observation of exactly what’s right there.

I find surprise. The click of existence. The recognition of privilege, in a larger sense.

33 Responses

  1. What age to cut off the “children’s gifts” is the yearly conundrum in my family. Every year it’s a stretch – with some of the sibling’s kids already married, and mine still fairly young, it’s a hard number to pin down. I finally said to my siblings – I’m buying for all the kids – you do what your conscious tells you to. Sounds like you have a nice combination of old and new going on. Enjoy!

  2. It is possible, of course, to combine Christmas tree traditions with your Significant Other’s and thereby create something that is yours together. A real tree with colored lights and a mixture of your and his ornaments, perhaps? Whatever you choose, have a wonderful Christmas.

  3. So does this mean there are two trees in one home?
    I don’t understand the word “digs”, maybe this is the clue?

    Is this your first Christmas as a couple?

    Merry Christmas, Lisa!

  4. While I love the serene aesthetics of an all-white or white-and-silver or white-and-gold tree, here’s something wonderfully childlike about a colorful tree. They make me nostalgic. Enjoy, and yes, the bliss is in noticing the little details. Thanks for that reminder.

  5. i just love the way you use words…i have those same words piled up in my head but yours come out better!. this year, more then ever, i am in the moment.
    merry christmas!

  6. I loved this Lisa: “most any time I get melancholy I can startle myself into a tiny rapture by paying attention. I find my way forward most often via a conscious waiting for the sadness to pass through, and a parallel close observation of exactly what’s right there.” Yup.

    Merry Christmas Lisa!

  7. Wow. Lots going on in this post. Change. Letting go. Embracing the new and different. Savoring the present. Not exactly words that readily spill from one’s lips when discussing our HW cultural rulebook, which is for many of us stuck, rather smugly, in the land of how it “used to be.” Or, in many cases I can name, still mired in how it “must always be,” even though times have moved on and cultures have melded and family fortunes have dissipated due to too many generations of do-gooders and not enough earners. Do you know where you really got me? The Christmas tree. Is it the final frontier of HW aesthetic dogma that “one” must never have colored lights or rainbow balls on an artificial tree from Walgreens? I think possibly so. That you let go the “need” for (only) little white lights on (only) a real tree decorated with the remnants of mummy’s (or granny’s) ornaments says a lot (I can’t believe I’m writing this). Sure, keep up the Christmas traditions at home (for now) for the beloved, just grown children, as they find it reassuring and familiar. Continuity is valued at that age, still. But at ours? Less and less. It is really rather freeing, isn’t it?

  8. I LOVE THAT… “an act of love, plain but not simple”… Know what you mean though about white lights – my choice over all others but sometimes you have to go with the flow as they say…. Happy Nearly Christmas Lisa! X

  9. Hmmm… funny I just wrote a post about: the tree. About how we’ve found a compromise… about how it’s a symbol of our blending traditions. I am all for natural trees and white lights, with meaningful decorations (from our first christmas together, from childhood, from travels). The artificial trees take place and are rather expensive. So we’re having a small, wooden one that I find quite cute. You really have a way with words:

    “…any time I get melancholy I can startle myself into a tiny rapture by paying attention. I find my way forward most often via a conscious waiting for the sadness to pass through, and a parallel close observation of exactly what’s right there.”

    Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and your family. And of course, all the best wishes for 2013.

  10. Lisa…you and Reggie darling have made my Christmas with your pithy commentaries. I walked on a warm, sunny day through my old neighborhood yesterday and saw amid the shops few remnants of what had been there throughout my childhood and yet people bustled in and out in precisely the same old ways, arms full of last minute gifts and grocery bags and sundry parcels as they greeted strangers and friends alike. It was reassuring somehow to perceive all of the changes and shifts and yet see that others had made this place I loved so much their home.

    When I was growing up, I was certain our Christmas traditions were exactly the same year to year. As an adult, it took me years to figure out that they had always been shifting, sometimes imperceptibly, into newer versions of what was familiar. and there is definitely something enormously liberating in that realization.

  11. An artificial tree with colored lights brought home on the bus from where?

    There can be no greater act of love. My girlfriend, remarried over a year now has to make that green bean casserole for their family getogethers.

    What you do for love.

    Merry Christmas Lovely Lisa.

    xo Jane

  12. I tried an artificial tree once about 20 years ago. Never again. For me, it is either a real tree or a small tabletop tree shaped collection of ornaments -no faux greens. We always used colored lights. My WASP father said he always felt the white ones looked less cheerful – almost sad. He knew he was breaking the rules. I decorate my trees with colored lights – it is what I grew up with.

  13. I am so happy that you have someone very special to share your life with! Embracing change, finding joy in the struggle, and becoming better at adapting with ease has come with the years. I find myself letting go while searching for those things of past days to carry through for future generations to know from where they have come. This year I am planning to bring my late father’s tradition of building a very large puzzle between Christmas and New Year’s, to my children. My father would always select a 1,000 piece puzzle, set up a base on top of the grand piano, where he would build it and “hold court” through the week as we would take turns building and sharing our thoughts, struggles, successes, and stories from the past year. He would have a pan of roasted chestnuts to go along with our many hours of love and laughter.
    I wish you , and everyone here, much peace, joy, comfort and love! XO Candace

  14. Oh my dear one, I have been in Walgreens, I know their holiday stock and may I congratulate you on selecting the only artificial WASP tree they have in stock, yes YOU. As you would say, let us deconstruct by noticing what you did NOT do: You did not bring home their aluminum tree with LED rotating strobe show, you did not bring home the palm-styled tree with fronds outlined in lurid dayglo red lights, you did not bring home the 3-shades-of-pink foil tree with snow gobbed on the tips of the foil needles, neither did you bring home that overworked charliebrownfacsimile tree. So see? Bravo to what you DID select! All my very best to you…

  15. “Startle yourself into tiny raptures. Pay attention.”
    I’m putting that on a tee-shirt. Superb.
    Merry Christmas!

  16. And I love “I find surprise. The click of existence.” Yes. Treasure each lovely moment. Peaceful and love-filled holidays to you and yours – thank you for all the thoughtful gifts of privilege you’ve given this year.

  17. I think you’ve really defined privilege for me with this post, Lisa. Being able to witness your children validate the family traditions and make them your own, and adopt new traditions to enrich your life and those you love. Thank you.

  18. So this is quite a bit off subject, but my friend and I just were just having a discussion about her and her new….fellow. She felt that she was too advanced in age to have a “boyfriend” and a variety of other options were either too dated(beau, suitor). After discussion, we decided upon “significant other” or “SO” for short. I wonder if you decided upon “significant other” after similar thinking?

  19. We’ve been plunged into change over the last few years, adapting to our grown children’s evolving traditions — some rue hits, from time to time, but mostly it’s fascinating to see what they take of what we’ve given them, and what they make, with that, by combining it with their significant others’ traditions and dreaming up their own.
    Sounds as if you’re doing a brilliant job of adapting to change, not surprisingly — Merry Christmas to you and to yours!

  20. Lisa,this post shared so much of my struggle with what RD called the ‘rulebook’ what I was brought up on,and still tends to shackle me….not an easy subject to discuss,so enjoyed your thoughts on this matter.

    So happy for you to have found your kindred spirit.

    Happy Christmas to you,and your family. Ida

  21. I love this post. Beautiful, pithy, funny, heart-warming, a mix of old and new and high and low and in the middle of it all love and self-awareness and an ability to embrace change with a soul full of wonder and finely-tuned social observation. Might I suggest it for your archives? ;)

    Happy Christmas to you and all your loved ones, Lisa!

    P x

  22. White lights, colored lights… it doesn’t matter much as long as you are in the company of loved ones.

    The way you structure your thoughts and weave your words always leave me feeling that I just finished listening to a beautiful piece of music. Truly.

    Hope you had a most wonderful Christmas with family and friends. Best wishes for 2013.

  23. Thank you for reminding me that we all feel melancholy for certain moments at this time of year as we watch our children grow older and remember our own childhood Christmases. Something as “simple” as the colour of the lights can be loaded with meaning. I hope that you and your loved ones enjoyed a happy time together and I wish you all the best in 2013.

  24. Lovely post. Once all our kids had left, we haven’t had a tree, though we have a generous poinsettia. We need the room for the family’s increasing numbers.

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