Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oh Christmas Trees

I love Christmas trees but the caveat is, they absolutely have to be real, live trees. Have to be. As far as I'm concerned there's nothing festive about those artificial metal and fiberglass things that have been shaped to resemble a tree. They don't feel like a real tree and more importantly, they don't smell like a real tree.

Growing up we always had real Christmas trees. When we were little I remember stopping at a tree lot every year on our way home from my grandparent's house after Thanksgiving. More often than not those trees were still wrapped up in netting and we couldn't unwrap them lest we not be able to get it home on top of the car, so we never really knew what our tree looked like until we got it home. That was ok though. It was all part of the adventure.

When we got a little older we advanced to going to a Christmas tree farm and actually cutting down our own tree. These times are some of my best Christmas memories even though in hindsight, they also tended to be some of the more dysfunctional parts of preparing for the holidays. Leah and I always searched until we found the absolute biggest tree we possibly could. And let me tell you, we picked out a couple of monsters in our day. We'd then fight over who got to "cut it down" using the hand saw the farmer provided but more often than not we were worn out before we even made a dent in the thick bark and Dad ended up having to finish it (while we stood back and whined about how long it was taking and how cold we were). Of course we always acted like we were going to do the lions share of dragging those things back to the truck too but in reality, that was rarely the case.

Whether we bought the tree at a tree stand or cut it ourselves on a tree farm, the best part came when we got the thing home and Dad had to get it in the stand and wrestle it into the house. Keep in mind we had some BIG Christmas trees--well over 10 feet in most cases. This was not an easy task (I'm assuming; since I never actually did it I could be wrong). Watching Dad push/pull/wrestly/fight the tree into place never failed to be hilarious to me. Looking back he probably came darn close to giving himself a heart attack a few times, but that didn't stop Leah and I from laughing our heads off. For some reason though, Dad was convinced for years that he needed to "trim" the tree before he brought it inside. Not trim as in decorate; trim as in cut into pieces. He's start by whittling the trunk down to a toothpick under the guise that it needed to be smaller to fit in the tree stand, and before long, he'd be knee deep in a pile of branches he had cut off. Every year we ended up having a showdown about how much he was allowed to cut off the tree and Leah and I stood watching him like hawks to make sure he didn't cheat.

With memories like these you can imagine my utter devastation when I came home from college for Christmas break my Freshman year and discovered that my parents had sold out and bought an artificial tree. I feel dirty just saying that! I mean, how weak can you get? They acted like it was just getting to be too much work to haul in a real one every year but in all honesty, I think they had just been waiting for years to get me out of the house to do this because they knew I'd throw a fit. I did, and I still do, five years later. Even though we've moved out, Leah and i still go home every year to help decorate the Christmas tree. And every year I complain as much as I possibly can about how much I hate our weakness and how this isn't a real Christmas tree, etc. It's yet to do a bit of good but it makes me feel better.
Fake or not, I still love the act of decorating the tree. I think everyone does it differently but in our house there are no themed trees, or pretty color-coordinated trees. No, ours is more like a color explosion made up of lights and ornaments and such that we've collected over the years. Nothing really matches but by the time we're finished, it always looks incredible. I love opening that box of ornaments every year and pulling out a bunch of memories I haven't given much thought to since the Christmas before. Our ornaments represent trips we've been on, milestones we've met, and things we've accomplished. There's the yellow school bus ornament I got when I started kindergarten and got to ride the bus for the first time. There's Leah's ballerina ornament that we laugh about every year because she hated ballet lessons and cried every time mom and dad made her go. There are ornaments given to us by some of our dear friends to commemorate family vacations we took together and there are ornaments that we've picked up on trips we've taken ourselves. The best ornaments of all though, are the ones that Leah and I made when we were little. I think they are priceless. This one for example, I made when I was in preschool Sunday school. I think it's supposed to be a bell...

The buffalo was given to us by family friends to commemorate a trip we took "out west" years ago.And of course, Mickey came from Disney World my junior year of high school when my basketball team played in a Holiday Tournament there.

At the risk of getting sappy and sentimental I'd just like to say that as I sit here and think about decorating that silly fake tree, I'm almost overcome by how blessed I feel. All those good memories I have truly are priceless to me and each and every one of those ornaments (as goofy as some of them are) represent a little piece of my life serve to remind me of just how fortunate I am. I still hate the artifical tree with a firey, burning passion but nonetheless, I love what it represents.

Wow, I had planned to include in this post a part about my and Zack's tree here in New Orleans but this has gotten ridiculously long so I better hold off until another time. Guess you'll just have to wait in suspense until then...

1 comment:

  1. I remember picking out ornamentss every year to try to commemorate something going on in your life that year. In fact, you should have one for just about as many years as you are ole. And of course, there will be that special one for your and Zack's first Christmas together. Merry Christmas, dear granddaughter. I will really miss seeing you and Leah this year. Love, Grammy


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