I love my Christmas tree. Like, a lot. It’s a little crazy how much.
It is, in part, because I love Christmas. The holiday season brings a certain amount of reflection and taking stock of one’s life. Bygones are let be. Assessments are made. Goals are set. Love is abundant, as are green and red Rubbermaid containers.
Now, I don’t necessarily love the tradition of pulling said containers from the attic, or the fact that hanging exterior lights and garland is always a source of contention for my husband and me. What’s the problem with shooting a few hundred staples into the exterior of a home anyway??? Today is day six of me asking for him to hang the stuff, to which he responded last night with, “Oh, I’m going to hang the stuff this weekend.” Okay, dear. I know his tactics – he’s stalling. His ultimate hope is that I’ll forget or get distracted, both of which are highly likely, so by the time he actually (pretend) offers to hang the stuff, it will be December 20th and I’ll say, “Well, it’s too late now!” That’s right, honey, I’m onto you. But I digress.
I love the tradition involved with the tree. I love that every year on the day after Thanksgiving, while crazed shoppers across America throw elbows to get the latest version of the Tickle Me Elmo or Holiday Barbie, the hubs and I load our spirited six-pack into the minivan and head to the local Christmas tree farm to select the perfect tree. At the entrance, you have to pass a giant live oak draped with Spanish moss and smothered in resurrection ferns to get to the rows and rows of perfectly triangular trees.
I love that I take a photo of my fab four in front of that majestic oak every year.
I love that after we pick the perfect tree and it’s being strapped to the top of the van, we buy homemade pepper jelly and peanut brittle.
I love that the kids eat the brittle before we make it home.
I love that my goat whisperer baby girl has her yearly chat with the miniature petting zoo clan on site, and proceeds to beg for a bunny of her own just like the bunnies they have there. Every year.
I love that we put the tree up while watching our Hogs play their last regular season game of college football (WPS!), and wrap the carefully selected Fraser fir with lights in between finger food snacking and shouting at the television. Our black Friday is anything but dark as we close it out admiring the simple beauty of the tree and its lights.
Now getting the tree to its ideal glory hasn’t always been easy, let alone glorious. True to form in this house, there’s always some snafu that pops up, for instance, the year of the lizard. You read that right – the lizard. Apparently, lizards like to hang out in wreaths, and when you hang a wreath on the outside of your door and then open that door, it’s a window of opportunity for them to strike. Our little friend smuggled himself into the house one day when I was letting the dog out. Since I freak when anything in the slimy critter department gets ANYWHERE near me and my best method to catch such critters is placing a heavy bowl or glass over the top of them until someone less afraid shows up, my efforts to catch him were limited. The little jerk made a beeline straight for my beloved tree, where he set up camp, camouflaged from sight. For the next two weeks, I fretted over the prospect of him reappearing in one of my kids’ presents on Christmas morning, or worse, that I’d wake one morning with him on my face. After several sightings and near catches, he decided to make an appearance after our company had arrived for the holidays. My brother-in-law was admiring the tree as we told him the story of our unwelcomed visitor, when he said, “I see him. He’s looking right at me.” I figured he was just joking, because he’s been known to do that, but lo and behold, that scaly little creep was nose-to-nose at the end of a branch with my BIL. He was taunting us. I don’t recall all of the frenzy that followed, only that I closed my eyes and prayed none of my beloved ornaments would be smashed, but the lizard was evicted from the premises, and I no longer hang a wreath on my back door.
There was the year of the missing decor, when each new day brought one less handmade ornament and in its place, crumbs and the ribbon used to hang it. I should’ve known better than to put anything that smells like cinnamon where my sweet gentle giant of a lab could get to it. His appetite wasn’t specific to applesauce ornaments – he even ate a Christmas star made of Popsicle sticks, dry pasta noodles, and glue. He was definitely motivated, and later, constipated.
Then there was the year of the spinning tree. Every day I’d return from work and the ornaments that were on the front of the tree when I left were on the backside, and vice versa. The tree skirt was tangled around the bottom of the tree, half covered in water from the bucket at the base. Ornaments and fir needles covered the floor, and some days the tree was leaning. There was no explanation for it. The thought crossed my mind initially that someone had broken into the house, took nothing, but twisted my tree a full 180 degrees, just to mess with me. I quickly replaced the idea with a far more reasonable explanation – my creative pooch was obviously trying to drink water from the bottom of the tree. I guessed since he had an affinity for festive snacks, the tree-flavored water was more appealing than the tap water in his bowl. At least that’s what I thought – until this year.
We only had the tree up for one day, and had carefully placed non-breakable ornaments on the bottom to avoid ruin by the giant Labrador tail, when our old man revealed his secret. I guess with age comes a complete lack of regard for consequences, because he walked right into that tree and was using it as a full-body backscratcher – right in front of us! I’m pretty sure the words that followed were something like, “What the $%#& are you thinking?” as he looked me right in the eye and proceeded to get his scratch on. The tree was spinning, the water splashing on the few gifts we’d already placed, when it occurred to me that it wasn’t water he was after before – he’d discovered the world’s best loofa in my Christmas tree. If you stop by this holiday season and there’s a barricade of chairs/ottomans/stools around our tree, you now know why.
While it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing sight to have a furniture fort surrounding the tree, it’s so worth it. It’s partly because it saves me from cleaning up a huge mess every day, but mostly because I am an overly sentimental sap who, much like the sap on the tree, is very attached to the content on the branches and all that it symbolizes. I told you before – I friggin’ love my tree.
I love that the lights are white. All white, traditional twinkle.
I love that the theme is red and gold, mostly.
I love the multiple manger scenes and the hand-painted globe of the Three Wise Men bringing gifts to the Reason for the season.
I crazy love all of the baby faces. Baby on Santa’s lap, crying. Baby inside a snowflake, smiling. Baby carried by a stork, wide-eyed. Baby on a Christmas mouse, scrunching.
I love my son’s Batman ornament that has to be placed just so in order to appear that he just flew in and landed on his designated branch.
I LOVE the Santas – so very much.
I love my husband’s vintage ornaments, even the old Mets Santa, and the fact that his mom not only had the sentiment enough to save them, but to pass them along, recognizing what they’d once mean to a family of his own.
I love that each ornament allows me to take pause at a certain stage of my children’s lives. Soccer balls, basketballs, baseballs. Madeleine, Olivia, Barbie. Baby boots, rocking horses, handprints. Mermaids, cheerleaders, angels. Razorbacks, crosses, anchors.
I love that each year on Christmas Eve, my children open and place a new ornament on the tree.
I love that the tree is so stinking full that it’s hard to fit all of the ornaments on it.
I love that for one month every year, I have a physical reminder of our journey as a family and time to reminisce and celebrate those moments.
I’d like to think that we’ve encountered all possible tree debacles, but much like life, we can’t always see them coming. There will certainly be times when things get twisted, broken, and messy, but there won’t always be time for clean up and repairs. Hug your babies. Love your people. Forgive your enemies. Celebrate your family and all of the mess that comes with it. Protect your tree.