Below the hill from our apartment sits a beloved Seattle diner. It’s the kind of diner where people crowd the sidewalks waiting for their turn to be seated. It’s also the kind of diner that gets all decked out for Christmas. Their windows are painted with winter scenes. They have every part of their building outlined with bright multi-colored Christmas lights that are the size of regular light bulbs. The roofline of this place has a single file row of outdoor Christmas figurines that light up- well at least most of them still light up. Included in this line up is Frosty, baby Jesus and his parents, the shepherds and their sheep, Santa with all his reindeer flying toward the sky, a few candy canes, another version of baby Jesus with his parents and the wise men, and then a few more random plastic light up objects.
It’s a hot mess.
But I secretly kind of love it.
Normally the scene from this restaurant is something that would make me cringe (especially since we can see it from our bedroom window) but there is something about the mess of it all that makes me really happy. I think it’s because it brings me a feeling of nostalgia… like I’ve stepped back in time and I am a kid again.
I get the same feeling every time we put up our Christmas tree. As soon as the little white lights get plugged in, I am flooded with memories.
Like memories of my childhood when I would eagerly await the day that my mother and oldest brother would start pulling out the boxes of Christmas décor. I could hardly contain my excitement as I patiently waited for my opportunity to hang the ornaments. Ok… truth be told… I probably didn’t contain my excitement and I most certainly wasn’t patient. I loved Christmas so much that I couldn’t hold it in! My family did not have much money, and our house was too small to hold a large tree so we had a fake plastic tree that was about four feet tall and sat on top of an old cart with rusty wheels. My mom always called it “old scrawny.” Looking back, the scene must have been actually quite pathetic, but I sure didn’t know it. I remember thinking each year that it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I would stare at it for hours. It felt so magical and special. I think decorating for the holidays is what started my love for design.
Christmas trees also bring back memories of college life. I wasn’t a normal college kid… at all. While my friends were busy spending their money on snow board gear, trips to Whistler and beer, I was preoccupied with shopping for my holiday décor and finding the perfect ornaments for my tree. I remember making a conscious decision to not study for my finals because preparing for my annual Christmas party was more important. Much more important. While my friends sifted through notecards and text books, I studied Martha Stewart magazines looking for inspiration. I laugh every time I think of these moments, but I also know the passion for creating those parties and decorating my tree was just another thing pointing me to the career I would eventually choose.
Perhaps the best memory of all that comes to mind when we put up our tree, is when I asked Jamie to marry me. It was just three years ago that Jamie sat next to the Christmas tree in my design studio and I got down on one knee, told her how much I loved her and asked her to be my wife. People often ask how I proposed… and I sometimes worry that I am going to disappoint them because there is no big story to tell. There were no fireworks, video cameras, scavenger hunts nor any writing in the sky. It was just Jamie, myself, a Christmas tree and a whole lot of love. I wouldn’t change a thing. Especially the part where she said ‘yes’.
I think one of the fun parts of marriage is creating new traditions and memories that 20 years from now I will still recall when we start to decorate for the holidays.
What memories come to mind when you put up your Christmas tree? We love hearing from our readers and always appreciate the comments you leave for us.
photo credit: Matthew Land Studios