A picture-perfect tree


The kids love getting the Christmas tree. We go to the same tree lot every year–there are singing decorations and a mass of people in a heated garage drinking and tying things on wreaths “artistically”. Between gulps of PBR, they remember to ask our kids if they would like a candy cane over the noise of the chainsaw that is trimming the trunk of our tree. What can I say? I am a sucker for tradition.

We always manage to find a decent looking tree and Big Man gets the lights on just so thanks to years of serious tutelage from his father. He retreats to the couch admiring his work and waiting for the odd request to “hang this up there, dad” or “I can’t reach this, dad” never really minding about the particulars.

The best part of the whole experience is getting out the ornaments. I started giving the kids ornaments when they were babies- things to reflect their interests and experiences. It’s always fun to have them take them out because they laugh at what in no longer of interest to them. Last year’s fling with ice skating is barely noticed when Harry Potter and friends are revealed. Various dragons and dinosaurs show the steadfast love of a little boy. The small, glittering Eiffel Tower reflects a big dream of a little girl and the Darth Vader who stands watch over the heard of dinosaurs suggests the influence of a father and an auntie. “Let’s hitch a wave!” gets thrown about when we spy the San Diego Zoo ornaments because the kids got to boogie board for the first time on that trip to California.

And this is ends the romantic part of decorating the tree.

A few days ago, I realized we had mistakenly thrown out lights in the never ending quest to pare down and get rid of stuff. Big Man and Things picked up some lights one day while I was working. Apparently, there was quite a discussion over what sort, color, and size. But as we were pulling out the ornaments, Big Man tested the lights and a strange look came over his face.

“Oh! They are so big, bright, and cheery!” chirped Thing 1.

“Umm…that’s because they are meant for the great outdoors,” replied Big Man.

Jumbo, mulit-colored LED lights. Or obnxious, loud, and head-ache inducing.

But no matter. I can tell by looking at my family that re-doing lights is not on the agenda. Things are now anxious to fill this gaily lit (or garish, depending on your take of things) tree.

Most of Thing 2’s ornaments sit at the four and half foot mark. Darth Vader presides over the dinosaurs and the Christmas Dragon that every boy must have- suggesting that the battle between evil and evil-er could start any minute. Thing 1 was more thoughtful in her presentation. The glittering replica of the Eiffel Tower could not compete with the hot pink tutu so they were distributed in a manner that one could really appreciate each ornament on it’s own.

It is obvious that I have given these ornaments to my kids without a thought to color coordination or taste. I was simply finding things that would chronicle their interests and experiences. Why, 10 years into this, did it now occur to me that they must put these suckers somewhere is beyond me. In years past, we have had two trees. I bought a cheap artificial one and put it in the basement where they play and let them have at it. In my cleaning spree,however, I decided two trees was totally unneccessary.

Oh well.

My family clumps together a lot like the ornaments Thing 2 placed at foot four and half of our tree. Depsite eight perfectly good rooms in the house, we all seem to end up in the same space, the lights are bright (and loud) like my kiddos, and I just don’t have a Martha Stewart bone in my body to un-do what might appear to some as a garish tree. But I know a reflection of joy and enthusiasm when I see it. And to this beholder, it really is quite beautiful.

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