Sunday, January 20, 2008

O Christmas Tree

We always had a real Christmas tree in our home when I was growing up. I loved the scent it gave off. I enjoyed going to pick it out with my family. I liked the way each year's tree was unique. I was reared to believe that real trees are the best trees for Christmas.

My first - and only- Christmas on my own, I carried on the tradition. I went to Meijer and bought one for about $12. The best part by far was disposing of it. My apartment management didn't want folks dragging dried out trees through the stairwells after the holiday. Instead, they had you dispose of them by pushing them off the balcony. Living on the top floor of my building, I felt that was close to $12-worth of entertainment right there.

For the first 8 years or so of our marriage, we also had real tree. A few years in a row I managed to win a free one from a local tree farm. There was a radio station there that I think B and I and maybe 3 other people listened to, because I could pretty consistently win their call in contests.

The last year we got a real tree was the year J was born. We almost didn't have a tree at all that year. J was about a month old, and based on the way he shrieked incessantly, we were beginning to wonder if he was the devil incarnate. There were lots of non-essential things that were being put on hold in our lives then. Decorating the house for Christmas was completely off the radar.

Until. . .I took J in for his check-up and the pediatrician happened to mention that babies find Christmas lights very soothing. I went straight home and "suggested" to B that he run, not walk, to the nearest anywhere that sold trees and BUY.ONE.NOW! We had a tree with lights up within the hour.

Somehow, in all the chaos of being new parents, the nostalgia of having a real tree waned. I was looking for ways to simplify our lives. I thought of Kathy, a woman we had known years earlier. Her annual Christmas decorating ritual consisted of taking the still decorated from last year miniature tree out of the box and setting it on the table. At the end of the season, it went back in the box to await the next year. When she first told me about this, I was pretty unimpressed. However, at this point in my life, Kathy's philosophy of Christmas decorating began to have new appeal.

I wasn't going to quite go the the table-top tree extreme, but we lived in a house with abundant storage space at the time. I figured we could get a full-sized tree, decorate it, and then stick it in the storage room until the next year. What could be simpler?! So, I turned my back on all my parents had taught me and bought an artificial tree. Christmas came and went, and the tree moved down to the basement to await December.

It was a great plan, except that we ended up moving in August of that year. We now have a house with very little storage space. There's no chance of leaving that tree assembled anywhere around here!

So now, I'm feeling a little nostalgic about the "good old days" of real trees again. Lovely scent. No assembly required. No disassembly required. No storage required.

Yes, I miss all those things. But I've discovered that the thing I really needed most about the real tree is the fact that it dies. Eventually, you have to get rid of it. There's a sense of urgency to get it out of the house when it's dropping needles by the vacuum bagful. That urgency is really lacking with the artificial tree. And I tend to be the sort of person who gets most things done only when they're urgent.

So, without that urgency you could, for instance, still not have gotten around to taking down the tree by January 20. Maybe I've inadvertently solved my dilemma about where to store it. It does fit rather nicely in the living room.


Anita said...

There was a brief moment this year when Madison and I thought it would be nice to take the decorations off the tree and just push it into the corner of the living room all lit up. We have a big enough living room...but I decided against it. That's just something else to try and keep dust off of!

Ro said...

I prefer to take mine down on the 26th of December. However, I get out-voted every year. This year, we had company on Dec. 30 and our living room was reallllllllllly crowded with the tree still up. When we spontaneously (3 in the afternoon) invited company to spend New Year's Eve with us, I was highly motivated to get the tree down. That's my new secret for getting the tree down - company coming in an hour - no room to put anyone! :) Oh, yeah - I have to take the dusty thing apart branch by branch - smoosh all the branches and pray the 20 year old color coded tags don't fall off so that I can re-assemble it next Christmas.

SJ said...

I guess I need to invite some company over this weekend to get me moving!