Do something well once and suddenly it becomes your job. That’s what has happened to me when it comes to picking out our Christmas tree. We had a fake tree for years, and although it looked quite real, my wife wanted to get a real tree. She had grown up with real trees and the fake one just wasn’t doing it for her. I grew up with a fake tree and thought the one we had was just fine, especially when compared to the one we had when I was a kid in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Even with assorted balls, bulbs, lights, tinsel and whatever other decorations we could find, you could still tell it wasn’t a real tree. Most people thought our 2000’s fake tree was real until they got real close to it and saw that the trunk was just a green circular piece of wood.
So a few years ago we started getting a real tree. Last year, armed with instructions from my wife, I went to pick out the tree by myself. I just looked for one that wasn’t too big or too small, that didn’t have any glaring bald spots, that didn’t drop all its needles if I banged it on the ground, and that was actually green (not all of them were). Everyone thought we had a great tree! I was happy that I picked out such a great tree, proud even, but little did I know the trouble I caused for myself.
When it came time to get a tree this year, I mentioned to my wife that we should go out and get one – together. “Why do you need me?” she asked. “You did such a great job last year!” I protested that I didn’t want to do it myself, that last year was a fluke, beginner’s luck. “You picked out a great tree last year” she responded, “You can do it without me.” So now it was on me to get a tree, something that everyone who came to our house until sometime after New Year’s was going to see, something that was going to set the tone for all the other Christmas decorations in my home. The pressure was on and I wasn’t liking it. I should have come home with a Charlie Brown tree last year and it would never have been my job again!
I put the pressure aside and went out – by myself – to get a tree. I took my time, checked out all the trees that were there and made mental notations as to which ones I liked the best to narrow it down to three or four. I then went back and checked them out again. Now I was feeling the pressure again. What if I went home with a clunker? What if it didn’t look so great in the light of my house? What if there was a critter hiding in the branches like in the Griswold’s tree in Christmas Vacation? I chased these thoughts from my mind and chose what I thought was the best tree and brought it home. Much to my happiness, my wife loved the tree when she saw it!
As we have been doing for many years, we decorated the tree as a family. I don’t know if the kids enjoy it as much as my wife and I do, but it was a lot of fun. We have some ornaments from before the kids were born, some that they made in pre-school or elementary school, some that are just a couple of years old and one little felt Santa Claus I made in third or fourth grade that holds special memories for me. We laughed when we saw the ones the kids made, especially the ones with their school picture on them; we “Aaaaawwww”-ed when we saw the ones that hold special memories, like the one for my daughter’s first Christmas, which is now eighteen years old; we shook our heads at the what-were-they-thinking-when-they-made-this ones, like the red, white and blue eagle ornament that we got at SeaWorld in Orlando. When we fit on as many of the ornaments as we could, we stepped back and took in the scene: a beautiful Christmas tree that lit up the room, warmed our hearts and made us all smile.
Yeah, I guess that picking out the Christmas tree will be my job every year. Merry Christmas!