A major hurdle has been negotiated and all three of us managed to get over it. The Christmas tree is up!

The other day I wrote a post called Oh, Christmas Tree where I announced that I would have to force the issue. In my heart I knew I wanted the tree, and a few decorations, to be put up. I felt that we had to do this as a family group. It was important for us to face the grief and get passed it. I was not certain if Daniel would make himself available for this. As I said that day, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he didn’t.

I’m pleased to say that Daniel did turn up. He did help us.

Daniel arrived home from work late. He’d experienced difficulties with the rail service and ended up going on a scenic tour of Sydney. It ended up taking him three hours to get home. This didn’t leave him in a particularly good mood, but when he walked through the door, he made an effort to leave the mood at the door.

I already had the tree put together and the lights in place. He looked at the tree and said that he’d like me and Gary to do the tinsel while he ate dinner. He never eats dinner in the lounge room, but he came and sat down right in the middle of the thick of it. I saw that as a good sign. I put on my Pan Pipe Christmas CD, even though Daniel and Gary both tried hard to get me to change my mind on that decision.

Imagine Daniel sitting on the lounge in the middle of the room. The bare tree stood to his left, the music attacked him from the right and Gary and I danced to the music, out of time to the beat, right there in front of him. Daniel couldn’t help but smile. Gary and I looked ridiculous and we knew it, but that was the plan. The job ahead suddenly became easier, our moods lighter.

Daniel finished his dinner and got rid of the plate etc, and then he stood and stared at the tree. The tree still looked quite sad with just the lights and the tinsel. “This feels odd,” he said.

Of course if felt odd. For starters, Daniel has never helped me and Gary assemble the tree before. It was odd for all of us. But “odd” can be overcome.

I picked up a special decoration and gave it to him. “I’d like you to start us off by putting this on the tree first.”

Daniel stared at the red ornament and we both read the inscription “Kuni 2004”. Kuni is one of Barry’s nicknames that his friends knew him by.

“Barry made that when he worked for the Christmas Cave,” I told Daniel.

I wasn’t sure what Daniel’s reaction would be. I knew this one thing could reduce him to tears, but to my relief he smiled and walked up to the tree. He placed the ornament where it would be seen by everyone who gazed upon the tree.

Then we each took something from the pile of ornaments and started the true decorating of the tree and the room – I had decided that no lights would be put up at the windows this year.

We didn’t wallow, we reminisced and laughed. I was determined to make Barry part of the evening, so we put things out that Barry had made when he was little. Some of the other ornaments were from their childhood, so Daniel shared stories about items they loved to see when they were growing up and what things had special significance. And he told me about the things they didn’t like too (and those items were left in the bag and not used this year).

It didn’t take long to do. The tree looked fabulous when Gary and Daniel disappeared, leaving me with the mess. Typical! I found the pine cones and put them in the tree to finish it off. Then I tidied up.

However, I had this little niggly feeling grab me at this time. The one thing that I’d been thinking about for weeks was nowhere to be seen. Barry’s stocking. It’s not the traditional shaped stocking. This stocking is more like a pillow case with a rope through the top – a sack might be a better description. The larger the better, or so Barry thought, because it meant more presents would fit inside. Anyway, Gary and Daniel reappeared, they could see that this meant a lot to me and they went off in different directions to search for it.

Some time later Gary came up behind me, I was busy in the kitchen. “I can’t find it anywhere. I’ll search the garage tomorrow,” he said.

I turned around to say something, but let the words fall away. Gary stood smiling. He held up the stocking. Christmas had been saved. The stocking has been hung on the wall beside the tree. It won’t be used as a stocking ever again, but I plan on having it framed and it will become a life long decoration for future Christmases.

I’m proud of us all. We made it!