Willie & the Christmas Tree

Our little munchkin is typically full of curiosity and fearless wonder. He approaches every new endeavor with a twinkle in his eye and a spring to his tiny step. He loves being hung upside down and swung from side to side by his Daddy. He thinks it’s a hoot to jump off of furniture or dive head-first into the bath tub. He chases the vacuum. He tries to climb the fence.

Dan and I had been a bit worried about putting a tree up at all, because we’d heard all the horror stories told by our friends…the ornaments might go in the toilet, the tree will get knocked over, there will be broken decorations everywhere, etc.

Still we had decided to plow ahead with our typical (though mildly scaled back) holiday decorating. We have an artificial tree, multi-colored lights and various ornaments of every imaginable size, shape and age. It’s a simple tree, but we enjoy it a lot and hoped Will would like it as well. When we brought him out to see it all on that first day, we held our breath.

We didn’t know what to expect… Would he try to climb the tree? Would he tear the paper off the few presents scattered underneath? Would the ornaments be thrown in the toy box?

So, we watched him take it all in.

He pointed and smiled at the ornaments. He giggled at the lights. He waved at the tree as if it were an old and dear friend. But he wouldn’t touch it.

Not the tree. Not the ornaments. Not the packages underneath.

He wouldn’t even get within three feet of it. If he accidentally stumbled into “tree territory”, he would scramble back out again and stare at it warily. We picked him up and walked him close. He reared back as far as he could without breaking our arms off and/or falling to the floor.

To our surprise, there seemed to be a magical force field that surrounded our modest little tree, and only Willie could see it.

We were surprised, but happily so. Now we could brag to our friends about how well behaved our son was. We could hang any ornaments we liked and not worry about them being broken. It would be business as usual in our house at Christmas – even with a toddler.

Gradually though, Will’s natural curiosity outweighed his Christmas tree caution. After a couple of days, he began to touch the end of branches and giggle. He started to lean in close to eyeball the Santa ornaments. A week passed and he noticed that some of the decorations looked a lot like baseballs, and were just as easy to throw. He discovered that the pretty paper comes off of the boxes under the tree, and that some ornaments fit neatly into the drawer in Mommy’s bedside table.

So now, we have moved the ornaments to the top half of the tree. They are cramped and crowded and it looks a little odd, but Will doesn’t care.

He grabs hold of the lower branches and pulls and tugs. The tinsel and candy canes above dance and the Angel teeters on her perch. And we don’t mind at all. Because next year, and the next year and the next year after that… we’ll have funny stories to tell about the year when we had a magical Christmas tree with a force field only Willie could see.

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