This post was written before Christmas on the day we set up and decorated the tree. But I was waiting for the pictures to add and then waiting for a missing camera to show up and then waiting just became the thing to do. Anyway, better late than never.
Every year John and I find ourselves in a dilemma. I think we both like the experience of having a beautifully lit and decorated tree to put our Christmas presents under, but neither of us particularly likes finding the tree, shelling out the cash to purchase it, and then figuring out the logistics of getting it set up. We tend to put it off until the last minute, after all, the trees tend to get marked down if you wait until the last day. This lack of motivation in the tree department showed up early in our marriage when on our second Christmas together we got a sympathy tree left on our porch by John’s parents on Christmas Eve.
If it weren’t for the kids, I’m pretty sure this Christmas Tree tradition would have died in our house long ago. There have been plenty of years where we’ve successfully thought up some excuse to not have a tree, like a curious toddler or the fact that we can help both sets of parents set up and decorate their trees. Last year the excuses were stress from an unexpected pregnancy, support raising, and a tiny living room. Someone heard one of our kids lamenting the fact that there probably wouldn’t be a tree and they left us a tiny tabletop tree. It was so cute, and perfect for that time.
It isn’t that we haven’t grown up with the tradition. Both our families have faithfully set up trees each year. Growing up, I have fond memories of our yearly unsuccessful search for a suitable tree on our 80 acres, followed by the deciphering of the code to putting together our well-worn artificial tree, which we lovingly called the “green bottle brush.” It was not a particularly attractive tree, but it was beautiful to my younger self. I loved coming down early in the morning in the dark and sitting by the colorful lights shining through the room. I still like that feeling. But the truth of the matter is, that traditions are a whole lot easier to keep when someone else is keeping them for you.
This year, of course, is different. We don’t have anyone to pick up the slack. Whatever we do for Christmas will be up to us. In some ways, it’s freeing. We can do anything we want! I’m married to a man who questions all assumptions when it comes to traditions and he’s all for changing it up a bit. But on the other hand, it feels stressful, because it is all up to me and somehow being far from family and the celebrations and traditions we are used to makes it more important to follow through with something, even it if it is different than normal.
And my kids are asking for a tree. Getting out the ornaments is important to them. Hanging up the stockings, even if they don’t get as filled as they do at Grandma and Nana’s houses, is essential to Christmas in their mind. And so these things we did. We found a small potted Christmas tree that could sit on top of the table that was in the way for a full tree and has the added benefit of being able to be transplanted instead of thrown out after Christmas. And it was the perfect size for one string of lights and our ornaments.