Christmas has always been a special time of year for your mother and I, but this Christmas, it was doubly so. Yes, I know it sounds cliche, but for years and years, Christmas after Christmas, all we wanted was you. We opted out of the expensive trappings of the season for most of our adult lives. It seemed silly to buy gifts--- to be opening presents--- when the only thing we ever wanted to see tumbling out of a neatly packaged box was a giggly little girl. Every dollar spent was a dollar taken away from the Eleanor Smith IVF fund. However, despite our frugality, there was one thing we did always buy ourselves each Christmas: a Christmas tree.
Every year your mother and I would wait for a cold day, head out to Tree Town, then walk together through the rows of spruces and pines and furs, leaving a little space in our hands where yours should be, and a space between us where one day you might be bouncing along. Each year, your mother would judge all the trees quite stringently, examining every one top to bottom for asymmetries and imperfections as though judging pigs at the county fair. I, on the other hand, would lament that we couldn't take the defective trees instead because it was doubtful they would ever find a "loving home." I shuddered at the idea that they would instead be tossed into the woods in a massive brown heap once Christmas had passed.
Invariably, we would both cynically joke about how all of our affection for Christmas trees were predicated on Christmas-tree-genocide, and then we'd egg on excited children who darted in and out of towering furs while their angry parents patrolled the rows of trees in search of their sap covered sons and daughters. Eventually we'd find the perfect tree, and deciding that we should spare no expense, we'd call over to one of Tree Town's grumpy, Christmas Tree "Elves" to fetch it for us.
Once it was home, we'd excessively decorate our perfect tree until the limbs buckled beneath the weight. I always knew that your mother was satisfied with the job if she declared, with childlike glee: "It looks like Christmas puked all over it!" Meanwhile, the cats would stare on, wide eyed, at the sparkling mass.
At that, we'd turn off the lights, stare at it in admiration, and then cry quietly together because we weren't sure whether you would ever be there to share with us a Christmas. Our little Christmas tree ritual was always a painful one, but to abandon that ritual, I think, would have felt like surrendering the fight to bring you into our lives. Whenever we had our tree, though, it seemed destined that you'd be there one day to gaze up at it with us.
How quickly that day has crept up.