Homes and families may change, but memories and traditions live on in this personal story from Tommy Maloney.
July 2009 I moved into my new (new to me) townhome on the outskirts of Denver Colorado, I was not only a homeowner but also a single dad. I made a very conscience effort to stay close to my son emotionally as well as physically. The townhome was literally a three-minute car ride (yes, I did time the distance) from my garage to my former wife’s house (also formally my house). I really wanted this home to be a place my son would enjoy when he was with my on my weekends. In March of 2012 I moved out of the townhome but “traditions” was my word that really encompassed our time there.
Unfortunately, I traveled for work and when it came to the holiday season there was no tree in the townhome and yes, I do regret that stupid decision. I did not realize that December 2011 would actually be my last Christmas in the townhome, but that Christmas was to be a unique one. I am very much a traditionalist. When I was a kid, for example, my Christmas gifts were wrapped in the Sunday comics and that even lasted into adulthood. Not having a tree was again not something I am proud of and yes, it was partially because of being a “road warrior” as well as being a cheap bastard.
My son Connor and I had several traditions that were not just yearly, but was also when we were together. Once a month we would have a tradition that was called “don’t make your bed day.” I believe that if you tell your kids that they need to make their bed, you sure better make yours too. Another one was going to Bass Pro Shop and see Santa. Yes, that place really knows how to put on a spread when it comes to the North Pole decorations and they even have a Mrs. Santa Claus. I am not a hunter, fishermen or a camper (my wife is working on the last one, yea me). However, again this place is so cool to not just see Santa but also get your picture taken with them (free plug). In 2011 Connor and I went to Bass Pro Shop to go and get his picture taken with Santa, but something else happened that sparked a need. After we got done we hopped into the car to head home. When we were pulling out of the massive parking lot there was one of those make-shift Christmas tree set ups and there it was.
I once had a sweatshirt that my mom gave me that was like the one Charlie Brown wore in the cartoons and I could relate to him. I was not a happy child, coming from a “broken” family, and just like Charlie Brown I did see a “shrink” but it was not Lucy. Most of you have seen the Christmas special of Charlie Brown and the tree. You felt so sorry for the tree and wanted someone to take that poor scrawny tree home…admit it you were rooting for the tree. I, too, had a special place in my heart for the tree.
We had to stop and look at the trees and there it was, it was a Charlie Brown-type Christmas tree and it was soon to be ours. We stopped mostly because Connor and I knew that we needed to get a tree for the townhome because I kept saying that we were going to get one. Well, it was time for me to walk the talk. Now let me explain that the townhome was around 1,100, square feet so that means it is not that large. However this “Charlie Brown Tree” would be perfect. It was not like what you would imagine what a normal real or fake tree looks like. this was a tree in a pot. The tree was not even five foot, but this was our tree so next stop was to get decorations.
Before Christmas, my wife started to put up the Christmas decorations both inside (setting up the fake tree) and outside. When she was put the tree up and got the boxes of tree ornaments, Connor found the ornaments from our tree and announced that he was going to put “his” ornaments on the tree. This might sound strange, but as a side note we are a blended family and are trying to create family traditions and for him, this is something he feels is a tradition and that is OK. Seeing those ornaments from the original tree brought back some memories, such as Connor dancing in front of the tree when he tried on a new hockey jersey or when I tried to keep the tree alive by placing it outside after the holiday season, hoping that it would stay alive while I was traveling for work. Well, hope can only go so far when nobody is around to water the poor tree.
I still get a kick when Connor out of the blue will mention our one and only tree. That tree is long gone and that is perfectly OK with me because to me the memories that Connor has of that tree is way more vital then the tree itself. Like I stated, we are a blended family of my wife her two daughters Betsy (age 18) and Becca (age 13) who love Connor and he loves them back. The girls do not remember the tree but that is also OK because we are trying to create our new family memories. But I just might purchase a Charlie Brown Christmas tree and bring it home if I see one at one of those tree stand places.
Photo: Thomas Lillis IV/Flickr
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