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We finally put up our tree last night. For those of you who live in a reality wherein the Christmas season starts sometime in December, let me introduce you to my husband who starts pestering me about putting up the tree as soon as Halloween costumes go on sale. Nuno loves Christmas with the fire of a hundred thousand sparkly lights.

Last year for The Whuff’s first Christmas, he was sort of… a lump. A charming lump, but a lump nonetheless. He couldn’t help us decorate. We put the tree behind his bouncy safari and much like a plant, we would turn him toward it on occasion to watch him jump at the SPARKLES! This may be his second Christmas, but it’s his first Christmas wherein he’s an active participant rather than a mere prop for antlers.

Last night as he helped me quite literally place ornaments ON the tree it occurred to me (in the way that the obvious seems so momentous when it knocks you on the head) that our Christmas Present is creating for Paulo his own Crap of Christmas Past. (That being how we refer to the giant trunk of every piece of Christmas paraphernalia that has built up in my parents’ home. That long ago spilled beyond the boundaries of one mere gigantic steamer sized trunk to contain “most of the attic” and “several smaller solar systems.”) What we do over the next few years will be what he remembers as “Christmas.” I realized this as Nuno went through and lined up the animal ornaments we’ve collected – we have bought one each year we’ve been together, this being our fifth – and it dawned on me that “Wow. Paulo is going to think of this as  Thing You Do – buying one new animal ornament every year.”

I didn’t pick a new ornament when I was a kid, but sometimes my grandmother would send me one. I had a mental list of the Special Ornaments that *I* wanted to put on the tree and had a special fondness for the kitschiest pieces of swag. I’ll even confess that for a few misguided years, I had a preference for colored lights. I know.

Paulo will never have the magic of a Vermont Christmas with sleigh rides and snow angels (though often as not, we had a brown and rainy Christmas that was a serious buzzkill in the Winter Wonderland department), but a city Christmas has a certain beauty of its own. We’ll always have small trees in the apartment – not the 8 footers at my parents’ house. There won’t be any huddling around the fireplace (but then again… there won’t be the need to huddle around the fireplace living in a house heated only by wood in which the other rooms are all a balmy 55 degrees. Fahrenheit.). Instead of lights on the porch, he’ll have to settle for a string of lights around the living room window.

But… instead of Christmas Eve church services, he’ll have the tradition of going to see The Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker. (Not this year though. We got a babysitter. We’re not insane.) He’ll have tree lightings a plenty. The tree at home… and the tree in Copley Place… and the tree at the Commons… While Vermont truly is the White Christmas of dreams, the city is twinkly magic. And since we’ll be spending Christmas Day up in Vermont, he’ll get the best of both worlds. The fireplace will be exotic and cozy and we’ll go home just in time to appreciate central heating. Once the city lights get too bright, we can dash through the snow to Oma’s house and have a beautiful Silent Night.

One thing we won’t be able to do in any location is a nice cup of cocoa. Someone has turned out to be lactose intolerant. Santa’s gonna have to have a nice cup of kefir with his cookies. And so traditions begin.