My sister and I recently commented to each other that we're becoming more like our mother in that we almost dread decorating the Christmas tree. Dad was the festive, merry maker when it came to Christmas in our house. He was just like a little kid at Christmas. I have memories of him dragging all the boxes down from the attic and making a big production out of decorating the Christmas tree.
Mind you, it wasn't just any old Christmas tree either. It was one that was hunted down and tagged and cut after many minutes of traipsing through the cold fields looking for "the perfectly shaped tree" - with not too many 'holes' but with enough space to showcase the many dozens of ornaments that had been collected over decades of celebrations.
Then it was brought indoors and since I was the oldest of my siblings, after Dad had hefted it into the tree stand, would hold it and turn it and lean it and adjust it as Mom sat on the couch and said, "a little to the left, no, turn it that way, no, it looks better this way". I could eventually be heard saying, "Come on, it's heavy, my arm is itchy, it looks good just like it is." All the while Dad was lying on the floor under the tree ready to tighten the screws whenever he heard the official proclamation that it was "perfect". Then we’d all stand back and look at it and decide that it was leaning too far one direction and the whole process would start again!
Then the lights. I hated the lights. They were tangled - no matter how much time we spent the year before placing them back in their boxes with each light attached to it’s little cradle, they were still tangled. And then there was always a red one that was too close to another red one, or a blue one too far away from the other blue ones. The same with the ornaments. That round one with the red stipes is too close to the round one that’s solid red. Invariably, sometime during the day (and it was a day-long process), Mom would state that we should just take the boxes back to the attic and forget the whole thing. We accused her of being a scrooge until she would suddenly be all interested in decorating when it was time to adorn the tree with tinsel. You know the kind...the foil (probably made of lead) kind. It was draped over our hands and strung over a branch –one or two strands at a time. NEVER, EVER, EVER throw the tinsel at the tree!!! What were we thinking?! And I shared my Mom’s perfectionism. In fact, after I went away to college and missed the annual family tree-trimmings, Dad commented that it didn’t matter how they decorated the tree because I was just going to come home and rearrange everything. And I did.
I have since learned to “let it go” when it comes to lights or decorations or ‘themes’ or tinsel. This year, we tried buying a pre-lit tree from StuffMart, hoping to avoid the whole light issue. After fifteen minutes of trying to make that ugly tree look like anything close to a Christmas tree, it went right back in the box and back to StuffMart and we headed to the next town to Kraynak’s, home of Santa’s Christmasland - a winding trail of animated Christmas displays which Olivia has dubbed “the moving guys...I call them the moving guys because they move.”
In addition to the moving guys, Kraynak’s has a huge and I mean HUGE selection of everything Christmas. From trees to ornaments to toys to candy to lights to...EVERYTHING Christmas. We searched the aisles and aisles of everything Christmas until we chose a small, live tree. A Douglas Fir. Small because we want to plant it after Christmas and because had it been large it would’ve been way too heavy for Brillo Man and I to maneuver from the van to the living room. Besides, we drove the van, not the truck. Vans don’t hold large trees - at least not inside!
Last night, Brillo Man stacked some galvanized tubs, lined one with a garbage bag (just in case the tub leaks) and placed the tree. Then we added the lights and the star. Beautiful. Too late to decorate....must wait until today.
This afternoon, I calmly sent Olivia to her room for a nap since she had been up way too late the night before and gotten up way too early this morning for church. Little sleep + 6-year old = cranky, cranky, whiny and cranky. Whiny, cranky 6 year olds make for whiny, cranky Moms and I was determined that we were going to have a good day. I told her she had to take a nap - or no tree decorating. She complied - I think. I’m still not completely convinced that she slept, but she did at least rest and she and I had a pleasant time together decorating the tree.
I let her choose everything –from the star tree topper she picked out at StuffMart all the way down to the strung popcorn garland. I strung - she ate. And while it may not have been all the ornaments that I would have chosen - she did a pretty good job on our little tree. And the best thing about it...there were no scrooges in site!
There was one ornament which I chose --Brillo Man's favorite - The Armadillo. If you don't know the armadillo story....you haven't been reading my blog long enough!
—trees that were pleasing to the eye...