She with the ugliest tree…
We’ve been married thirteen years, and by that calculation it’s been 13 years since my prettiest Christmas tree. Young and full of energy, we were gifted beautiful glass ornaments for wedding gifts. Each was packaged in safe space age padding, and I specifically remember hanging each and every beautiful one. Delicate glass icicles hung and the thinnest of tinted glass sparkled in the soft glow of the Christmas lights.
Back then, without the general rigors of family keeping me overly occupied, I actually did something I can barely bring myself to mention. I, um, used to watch crafting television shows. I thought it would be decorative and clever to tie tiny rustic bows on the tips of each limb, and I remember posing by the tree that took me hours upon hours to embellish, wearing my best Martha Stewart grin. Those were some different times.
Nowadays they are but faint whispers on a faded photograph of times gone by and thankfully never to return.
When you start having children, you never really think about things like Christmas trees. You think about hanging extra stockings and leaving cookies for Santa. You think about the fascination of Christmas morning and the piles of perfectly wrapped gifts with giant bows arranged underneath the billowing tree, each ornament radiant.
You don’t think about glitter glue.
You don’t think about popsicle sticks.
You don’t think about wads of dough with buttons stuck in there willy nilly that is so heavy that you have to either hang it directly from the trunk or reinforce the poor chosen branch with steel rebar.
But when you’re a parent (and a good one, I might mention) that’s what you get.
This year as we set out to decorate our tree that our children chose (read: not the one that mom wanted) we opened our boxes of ornaments from years past. There they were-- a thousand different decorations all placed ever not so gently between wadded up newspaper and others just tossed in with the box of lights because we must have missed a few last year during disassembly.
I don’t know about everyone else, but when it comes to the holidays and my kids, I run myself ragged trying to make each year a memorable one. We annually have some commemorative ornament that my children make, and I save and savor every one. Sure, when they are young there isn’t much ornamental about a piece of wood with some fuchsia paint smeared across half of it, but still I cherish it. When you have three children, though, they start piling up over the years. And then they go to school and if they’re lucky, some sort of crafting class. And if each kid makes an ornament with you, in school, and at a class, I am up at least nine ornaments each lucky Christmas.
When I opened the boxes this year, I looked long and hard at what I was faced with. The delicate crystal icicles were still there, amazingly in one piece, right next to a glittered snowflake that had somehow maintained a good portion of its red sparkles even though the slightest touch of it leaves you shimmering for days. I needed to make a choice.
You may have guessed, but I hung the glittery glob. And the fifteen pound hunks of dough. And the giant photographs in foam photo frames. And the paper cup turned angel. And the clothespin reindeer made by my husband as a child. And even the pile of sticks that I glued together and tied with the ugliest of golden ribbon so very many, many years ago.
When I had finished, I stepped back and looked at the most beautiful tree I have ever seen, with nary a speck of fancy and not even a dollop of taste. Just a bunch of the loveliest love I have ever seen hanging from tree branches, even the ones drooping low from the fifteen pound décor.
ps. The look on our dog's face gets me every. single. time.