Tag Archives: Christmas tree

Christmas Tree Chronicles

Do you remember that first Christmas tree you, as an adult, hauled home?

Maybe you and your beloved cut a fragrant evergreen at a Christmas tree farm amid silvery snowfall.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay.

Or you procured a Charlie Brown escapee. Maybe spent a precious dollar on a Salvation Army find.

I wish we, as newlyweds, had considered those alternatives. We had saved $50 for Christmas. Total. We possessed no lights or ornaments. We spent our bankroll on family gifts instead.

However, learning of our treeless holiday, neighbors offered bottom branches removed from theirs. Humming “Deck the Halls,” I accented the pine-scented boughs with little red balls.

Voilà! Christmas!

The next year, I vowed to have a tree, though possibly decorated with popcorn strings and spray-painted macaroni — and the red balls.

My sister-in-law to the rescue: “Why didn’t you tell us you needed Christmas stuff? Mom gave us bunches.”

How I celebrated that tree in our government-subsidized apartment! We’d never go without one again — though some Decembers proved more adventurous than others.

Later, when Hubby was training day and night at a hospital, I stuffed our Christmas tree into our only car’s trunk.

Whew! Now to drag it downstairs to our basement apartment. Except, where were my keys?

With the tree. In the trunk.

Did I mention I was pregnant?

After a grand tour per city bus, I finally arrived at Hubby’s hospital. They paged him: “Dr. Phillips. Dr. Phillips. Your wife locked her keys in the car. Please report to the front desk.”

He displayed zero Christmas spirit, but he handed me his keys. After another city tour, I drove myself and the tree home.

Little did I know what Christmas tree tribulations awaited me as a parent.

The following year, Hubby and I set up the tree in our daughter’s playpen.

Why didn’t we corral her instead?

Child-raising theories then advocated free-range offspring. No dastardly playpen for our baby.

As our family expanded, Christmas ideals shrank to survival for us, the kids, and the tree. Trying to hide it from rampaging toddlers, we moved the tree to different locations each year. All in vain. Our son’s destructo gene zeroed in. I covered the tree’s lower branches with harmless ornaments, hoping he would eat those.

He climbed it.

To this day, I don’t know if our son consumed broken ornaments. He is 30-plus now, so I guess the destructo gene was linked to another granting him an iron stomach.

This year, our empty-nest tree mostly fears my smacking it with the vacuum. With no inkling of its predecessors’ sufferings, it basks in gentle serenity, glowing with lights, tinsel and memories.

Unnoticed, little red balls, polished by 45 Christmases, still shine.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What Christmas-tree tale can you tell?

Keepable Resolutions 2019

Ah, resolutions. As in shaping up. Getting a grip.

You gotta love ’em.

No, you don’t. I don’t, either.

I used to procrastinate, thinking long and deep about resolutions, researching, editing, and reediting. My well-honed list didn’t emerge until February. I ate junk food, remained a couch potato, and avoided being nice a whole extra month.

Recently, though, I discovered a new, improved resolution-making method that reduces procrastination, yet prevents the root-canal effect of good behavior. My secret? I make only resolutions I can keep.

Simple. Profound. Why didn’t Einstein or some other genius with funny hair discover this?

I’m already hard at work, keeping my 2019 list.

In household matters:

  • I resolve not to embrace the latest décor: skinny sofas with all the cushy comfort of park benches and chairs designed by those who hate vertebrates. My outdated sofa will continue to encourage naps instead of body casts.
  • I also resolve not to rearrange my current furniture. My heart couldn’t take moving it. Or, seeing what’s under it.
  • I will resist the temptation to make our bread from scratch. Admittedly, I used to do this. But we must shed past follies, right?

In transportation matters:

  • No white car of mine shall remain white.
  • I will never take a flight to see my dad in Louisiana that doesn’t include a stop in Fargo, North Dakota.

In sports matters:

  • I promise to cheer against the New England Patriots forever, even if they move to the Midwest.
  • I promise to cheer the Kentucky Wildcats only if they move away from the Midwest.

In marriage and family matters:

  • Even in January, I will crack my bedroom window for fresh air. An added plus: I like sleeping with a giant burrito.
  • I resolve to freak out as my only granddaughter blossoms. Two freaked-out parents aren’t enough to supply the embarrassment levels every teen needs.

In miscellaneous matters:

  • I promise not to pay perfectly good money to die on Six Flags Great Adventure’s Kingda Ka, the tallest roller coaster in the world.
  • I will waste time viewing sunrises and sunsets.
  • I promise to sing along with raindrop music, and
  • I will click the TV remote when Victoria’s Secret ads appear.

Finally, in post-holiday matters:

I won’t take down my Christmas tree until I’m good and ready. Between Advent celebrations and a January 1 book deadline, I’ve taken little time to enjoy it. Besides, snow deserted Indiana this year. True Christmas tree appreciation requires snowflakes dancing outside my window. So, I’ll cradle my steaming holly mug, with carols playing and tree glowing, until my snow-goal is met.

Not that I’m procrastinating, or anything.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What keepable New Year’s resolutions will you make for 2019?

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?