A Perfect Christmas Tree?

christmas_tree_afterAsk a thousand people to describe what makes a perfect Christmas tree.

You’ll receive 996 rapturous — and opinionated — answers.

What about the other four? A few Christmas-tree-impaired people don’t get it. My father, who loved trees, saw no sense in chopping down an evergreen, hauling it inside, and decorating it with expensive baubles.

Fortunately, Mom overruled him. Because of Dad’s reluctance to contribute, though, we celebrated with a tree that looked as if it had been mugged by a Grinchy weedeater. But Mom filled our tree’s gaps with strategic placement of greeting cards. We decorated with our scanty string of big-bulb lights, the ornaments we and our pets hadn’t yet broken, plus glittery Sunday school paper bells and stars. We draped random garlands of popcorn and, as a finishing touch, tossed on wads of shiny icicles. Finally, we gathered outside the picture window, shivering and marveling at the most perfect tree in the world.    

My husband makes great tree choices. While flexible, he insists upon one stipulation: the tree’s trunk must be straight, as in a perfect ninety-degree angle to the ground. No leaning, even if it’s a little tired of the holidays.

With my background, I am not choosy. I always allowed Steve and the children to select our tree. If it appeared undernourished, we dangled extra ornaments and strategically placed large greeting cards á la Grandma. If its lower layers stuck out too much, I sympathized, as mine tend to do that around Christmas, too.

I only ask that the tree look fresh and green. No yellow needles. And they must cling to the branches like a scared-of-Santa toddler to his mommy. Please, no needles scattered abroad, their prickly presence lodged forever in my socks, sweaters and undies.  

Although we miss the kids, our empty nest simplifies the selection process. Steve, measuring trunk angles with a protractor, will get his Christmas tree wish. I, giving each one the super-shake test, will, too. We’ll haul home a fresh, green tree with a straight trunk.

So far, we’ve never found a flawless one. But that makes sense. Advent is all about God’s coming because we — and our world — are flawed. A Christmas tree reminds us what He can do with imperfection.    

After we’ve decorated our tree, I will drag Steve outdoors by the picture window and force him to enjoy the view.

“It’s straight,” he’ll say proudly.

“Yes, isn’t it?” I’ll answer. We’ll hold each other close in the darkness, shivering with delight.

No, our tree is not perfect. But it’s the most beautiful tree in the world.       

What’s your “Charlie Brown tree” story?

2 thoughts on “A Perfect Christmas Tree?

  1. Kim Peterson

    One year early in our marriage, we had no money for a tree. But I was heading home from teaching my last night class of the semester at Bethel College and drove by a Christmas tree lot. They were closed for the season and the sign said the trees were the right price: “Free!” I turned around and pulled in, aiming my headlights at the remaining trees. I found one about my height and stuffed it into the back seat of our little Ford Tempo. (I wondered if AFV was watching my efforts. LOL!) We propped that tree up in our bedroom sans decorations and read Luke chapter 2 next to it on Christmas morning. I think that may be my favorite Christmas tree ever. Most certainly, it was perfect.

    1. Rachael Phillips

      LOVE that story, Kim! What a special moment for you and Sean! We had no money for a tree our first year of marriage, either. We were living in married student housing, and somebody down the hall actually did buy a tree! She gave me the branches she chopped off the bottom. I bought a few tiny red bulbs and a bag of Hershey kisses, which I poured into a silver bowl we’d received as a wedding gift, and arranged them among the greenery. Ta-da! Our Christmas decorations! (The kisses even lasted until after Christmas Day!)

      I still hang one of those on the tree every year to remind myself to be grateful 🙂


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