This year, Christmas will be very special. Combined with celebrating the birth of our Savior, my beautiful niece Breanna (shown above) will be coming home. It will be the first Christmas in nearly six years that I have been able to celebrate with her, or with anyone from my own, very small, immediate family. David and I have our “Christmas” with my parents each fall before they migrate to Florida for the winter, and we normally spend the actual holidays with only David’s family. Not this Christmas. My Breanna Banana, which I have called her since she was a baby, will arrive next week and will not leave until mid-January when she returns to Northern Michigan University. If you think it’s cold where you are, visit Breanna in Marquette, Michigan. The administration has canceled classes several times already, a fact I’m sure brings total sadness to her as well as her friends. Right. Breanna and Breanne? (Her best gal pal—they are known as Bre#1 and Bre#2) Get back to studying.
Today, I am sprucing up Breanna’s bedroom in preparation of her homecoming. I began by adding some Christmas decorations, which in prior years were purchased from places such as Pier 1 Imports, Target, and HomeGoods, among others. (Budget-savvy side note here: nearly ALL of our Christmas decorations, cards, and wrapping materials have been purchased AFTER Christmas, when the items are 75%–90% off.) You could make a YouTube video of David and me at Target between December 26th and 29th that would gain thousands of views, that is, if you could hold the camera still while laughing uncontrollably.
Why is this tree so sentimental? It belonged to my maternal grandmother, who my brother, Brian, and I lovingly called “Gram.”
Gram was a wonderful, near-storybook grandmother to Brian and me, as well as our cousins, Brenda and Scott (Brenda, grab the tissues). Our grandparents lived across the street from where Brian and I grew up, and I spent hours upon hours at their small home. I know without a doubt that I will write more about them in future posts, but for now I will get back to the subject at hand: Gram’s fiber-optic tree. Brian and I saw this tree on Gram’s little end table each Christmas for a few years before she went home to her Jesus (that is exactly what she called Him, “her Jesus”). Gram and Pa had gotten to a point where they decided not to put up a “normal” tree, and on one of Gram’s shopping trips to Boscov’s, she bought this silver gal.
Breanna had eight short years with Gram before her death, but she does remember her. Even Rachel (my sweet “Cupcake” and Breanna’s younger sister by seven years), who was just a baby, miraculously has a slight recollection of Gram. I think it is hard to forget true love, in any fashion. Breanna and Rachel know that I, along with their beloved father (my only sibling, who, as some of you know, is no longer with us on this earth), looked at this tree together for Gram’s last few years. I’m positive Brian made jokes about it. To those of you who had the privilege of knowing Brian, you’re aware that he could come up with some really great one-liners. Our mother was often the main subject of his good-humored torment and jokes (nearly every day, in fact), and I know I can speak for both she and my father when I say that we would give anything to hear just one more of his award-worthy zingers.
Once again, I’ll get back to the 1980s tinsel tree. Breanna’s room has been “decorated” for Christmas with only this one item. I haven’t decided whether the noises that come out of it when plugged in (for the amazing fiber optic display) will be frightening to her or soothing. It’s a good thing that when we’re together, Breanna and I still love to lie in bed together at night, each reading (something we have done from the time she had her first book), because Breanna scares quite easily and the growling that emits from the tree could be terrifying.
First stage: Breanna’s room upon moving in...
Second stage: A few months after moving in. The room was somewhat better but was reflective of Breanna and Rachel being little girls (at the time, Breanna and Rachel shared this room when visiting). Rachel now has a room of her own for her extremely cherished summer visits. That reveal (still sounds snazzy) coming in the future. If Rachel was able to be here for Christmas this year as well, I would simply be melting. Someday I know she will be.
Third stage: Breanna’s room today, which is reflective of her heart and the beautiful, compassionate, and (very) fun young woman she has become. When I performed the makeover on her room this past spring, I asked Breanna which colors she preferred, and she chose light blue, along with yellow or gold (approving some sprinkles of pink). Each piece in the collage above her bed is sentimental to her for different reasons. I’d have it no other way for my beautiful Banana. She is, after all, a piece of my heart.
This mirror is a loving nod to my mother’s own special name for Breanna, her “Sunshine.”
I hope you have enjoyed what I planned on being a “heartwarming with dashes of decor” post, and I’d love to hear what you are most thankful for this Christmas in the comments below. Also, please share if you have any Christmas items like my Gram’s fiber-optic, taped-star, growling tree hanging around. As far as worldly things go, I think it is the items like these that have the most value.