I think it’s time I retold the story behind this beautiful white tree that stands in my house at Christmas time. The one that shines so bright you don’t even need any lamps on at night. The one that glitters and twinkles. The one we call Everlee’s tree. Just like the tree itself has a story to tell so does every ornament that hangs on it. All stories of Everlee. Past and present. As she’s always near even from heaven.
Its our fourth Christmas, this year, without Everlee, and I wish I could tell you all it has gotten easier, But there is still so much pain resonating inside from missing her and a little more always at Christmas. A time for Joy a time for family. And there’s someone missing. My heart always feels it.
Christmas before we lost Everlee, I always enjoyed. It felt light hearted and still as an adult I found magic in it but more seeing it through my childrens eyes. Christmas became strikingly different after Everlee. more painful time than i could ever imagine. I remember that first Christmas without her very well. I just wanted to hide. Close the door and emerge after all these holidays. How could I celebrate be merry when I was broken as I’d ever been. And I would never be able to witness Christmas through her eyes.
The pain was soo raw that first year, so unknown, so hard to process what a broken heart felt like period but even more so at Christmas when everyone around me was bustling with merriment.
I remembered the Joy of Christmas’s past, I didn’t want to loose that. I had always loved Christmas, but I suddenly hated it. I saw the trees and decorations coming out and felt sick to my stomach. The hustle and bustle felt so meaningless, all the family’s that were happy and whole a reminder of how broken I felt. How empty our home felt without our youngest daughter. I remember praying for a miracle that year. I didn’t know how my broken heart would make it through the holidays. It was hard enough just getting out of bed back then. It still is some days. But I knew I needed a miracle to make it through that Christmas.
I would get asked what do you want for Christmas this year? And I would just blankly stare, this had to be a joke right I thought. I don’t want any “thing” , the only thing I really wanted was Everlee. Can you give me my daughter back, because’s that’s all I really wish I could have. And is still is. The one thing that can’t be given.
I was also so worried she would be forgotten that first year. That I would look at all these smiling faces and feel that nobody cared my heart was still broken. That there was another piece to our family. Everlee’s first Christmas. That needed to be celebrated so many worlds apart.
All I can Everlee knew I needed this tree, our own Christmas miracle. Maybe she was trying to share the joy of Christmas in heaven with us. Christmas through her eyes.
I had attended a griefshare group on surviving the holidays, there was a story a mom told about how after she lost her husband, her and her kids would put up a tree just for Dad, filled with dads ornaments and things he liked to do. She said it filled thier home with her husbands presence at Christmas.
Thats what I was looking for, I wanted to fill my home with Everlee too, Her presence too. I immediately ran to the store to get my Everlee tree. As I walked into the store that day my eye found these beautiful white trees, Something about these white trees, a feeling they gave my heart that day. I knew Everlee’s tree needed to be white. Not pink, not green, definitely white.
But those big beautiful white trees weren’t in the budget, so I decided to wait until right before Christmas when I knew they’d go on sale.
I waited patiently to get my tree I wanted. And The day those trees went on sale I loaded up Alice and headed to Target. The first target was all sold out of the white ones, and the second. By the time we got to the third and found no white trees I finally asked for help there, and someone called a farther away store. It was practically blizzarding outside but I would have drove through whatever. They had one left I was told, only one white tree but they would put it up at the front for me and hold it.
So we headed to the fourth Target that morning. By this time my nerves were through the roof driving in a snowstorm, anxious to get this tree. I knew I needed this tree at this point. My heart felt such a pull towards a tree it felt urgent and it was becoming a bigger ordeal than I expected.
We arrived at the the fourth store, headed to the front to get the tree we had put on hold. But there was no tree. My heart was pounding. The employee said well let’s go look back on the floor, thinking nobody had gotten a chance to bring it up yet. We went back to the holiday aisles, no tree in sight. I could barely think through the stress I was feeling from it. She looked everywhere in that store and nothing it was gone. At this time the tears were so close as I clutched on to Alice for dear life. I needed that tree. Maybe I couldn’t have Everlee but a tree I should be able to have that. She took me to the desk to check any other stores in the inventory, As she looked we both realized the particular white tree I was looking for was literally gone from every single target in Minnesota. All sold out everywhere. There were others but that was what I felt I needed.
Her manager walked over and asked us if everything was alright. I must have looked upset or something And she asked me such a simple question “ is everything alright” but it hit me no nothing was all right this Christmas. I wanted Everlee, I needed this tree. So there in the middle of Target at Christmas time, the tears came. They streamed. Everyone stared. I looked at her and apologized as I tried to control the river of tears coming out. I explained it was fine, I’m not crying over the tree, I said I just lost my daughter this year, she passed away and that tree was supposed to be for her this Christmas. I was trying to find a way to bring her into our home.
She stared at me for a minute and I thought great she thinks I’m nuts, I got ready to turn away and she said “I have one more white tree, it’s not the one your looking for but it’s white.” She led me to this beautiful white 10 foot Christmas tree they had on display. And besides it was one more box, one last white tree that matched the one on display. It was beautiful no doubt but even with the sale they had that day that tree I told her it was still out of my budget.
She looked at me and said “I would like you to have this for your daughter, and you can have it for the price of the other tree you wanted. It’s no problem.”
If anyone is familiar with Target they don’t just do that knock of insane amounts of money, they are a huge cooperation they don’t have personal costumer service like that. Or care if something wasn’t in your budget.
I told her my ceilings aren’t that tall either, let alone that box won’t even fit in my car. She assured me, the tree came in four pieces it would be ok to leave a couple out, and just like that she had someone disassemble it from the box and load it into my car nicely.
I left that day in shock, my heart overwhelmed being met with such openness in my historics, tather than blank uncomfortable stares I normally get. When she had taken my up the the register she never even charged me for the price of the original tree, I think she gave me the 95 percent off deal. I drove away knowing she had been my angel that day. Thankful and full of tears. My heart felt restored by this kindness I recieved from a stranger.
A little bit of the pain was replaced with this magic behind this act, a returned Joy, a Christmas miracle of my own I thought. I knew that was the right tree, to call Everlee’s tree, in fact maybe she picked that one all along. Everlee had sent me just the right one. Because the story of kindness this tree had behind it made it extra perfect. This was Everlee’s tree straight from heaven.
I cried the whole way home. My heart was so touched, and I felt Everlee close. I needed that. I got home and put it up right away. It was even more beautiful standing in my home.
This a picture from that very moment. Alice in front.
The tree remains a staple in our home at Christmas. Each year it gets added to a little more. This year I added more color to it the colors of Everlee. Blue for the ocean for she is our island baby. Pink was added for this blush pink reminded me of the little pink hat we had on her in the hospital. And yellow in the sunflowers. And gold, for when I dream of her she has this golden blonde hair that shines.
I have ornaments on it that have been gifts to her. One ornament I made that first year, baby’s first Christmas in heaven it reads. There are Ornaments that remind us of the beach and the story that surrounds her in that. Angels that I’ve found that remind me of her. Flowers adorn the tree representing Everlee’s garden and the beauty that garden brings to our lives. I found a tree topper made out of starfish. It couldn’t be more perfect. And we have picked up ornaments from each one of our travels, our way of bringing something home for Everlee.
Everlee’s tree definitely brings her presence into our home at Christmas. Her presence literally sparkles all over through it. Just what I had wanted.
Yes Christmas I believe will always be painful without her. But I’ve found ways to help my heart this time of year. This tree is one of them. Everlee’s tree, the tree with a story to tell and a whole lotta Christmas magic.
I realized as I gazed upon this year how many ornaments and story’s are on there now. The tree is getting over crowed. Her story lives on.
Good thing I have two more sections to this tree that I currently can’t fit. Now I just need bigger cielings!
Everlee might not have lived long but the stories surrounding her, past and present are plentiful. Her story is not done yet. And we find her still in so many ways today. Although we can’t touch her, we feel her in such a huge way.
I now I’ll always wish for her at Christmas, the one I’ll always want home for Christmas. The one my heart Longs for. maybe she answered me that first year. That wish. In the form of a bright white tree. Sent straight from heaven by an angel so I could glimpse into the magic she finds there. So I could feel her so brightly fill up our home.
I cant wait to ask her someday when she’s back in my arms.
This is one of the many ways we feel close to the little girl we miss the most. Our Christmas traditions with Everlee. It’s how we survive. It’s how we find joy and feel a little magic again.