I have a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. So do all four of my sisters. Yes, I have four sisters, no brothers. Which always amazes me that my Dad did manage to live as long as he did. It also explains a little bit of his hearing loss. We used to think it was from the constant noise of the years spent working in the steel mills. Knowing what I know now about the nervous system and habituation, I believe it was from the constant high pitched squeals and shrieks that resulted from living with 6 women.
Anyway, last Christmas was an unhappy one for me and my sisters. Our Dad died on Thanksgiving weekend, just less than three short weeks after we lost our Mom. The five of us were together again, preparing to say another final farewell. There we were, surrounded by all of the lights, decorations, and the festivities. Everyone seemed to be eagerly anticipating Christmas. Except for us. And our family and friends, of course.
The day after I arrived back home, my oldest sister (the new head of the family) and I went to the local mall for a few things. We hurried along, our propellers reved up to get our agenda for the day completed. After all, we had a lot to get done. We walked past a small shop that featured a replica of the original Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. We both saw it at the same time. We stopped and just stared at it for a few minutes until my sister said, “Well, that about sums it up for us this year!” My sister couldn’t help herself, especially with me nudging her. She went in and bought the tree, so the five of us would have a Christmas tree in the house.
That little tree had a place of honor in the middle of the coffee table in the family room, and it was instantly a big hit with all of us. In the midst of our sadness and heartache, that silly little tree gave us a lift and helped us smile and remember the happier times in that house. As a matter of fact, the tree was so popular that our sister sent a cousin back to the mall on a secret mission to buy each one of us our own Charlie Brown tree.
My Charlie Brown tree was the only decoration I had the energy to put up in my house last year. Every time I walked past that tree, it gave me a gentle reminder of the resilience, sense of humor and spirit both my Mom and Dad demonstrated during their entire lifetimes. That little tree helped me change from the pattern of sadness to a sense of joy and gratitude for being raised by two wonderful people who lived life to the fullest.
Sometimes the smallest, simplest and most humble of gifts can reap great returns.
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP