After Thanksgiving, my google reader was abuzz with Christmas tree posts: DIY ornaments, beautifully decorated trees and peaceful looking children. Last year, I wrestled with the fact that Varun and I don’t have many Christmas traditions. Establishing traditions as a family is tough, especially when we come from two very different cultural backgrounds.
But to me, the Christmas tree is a non-negotiable.
And I thought about going to a farm and choosing a tree…and it seemed like an added expense and an added investment of time. And then my thoughts wandered to when we can take our kids, and it clicked: cutting a Christmas tree down is a tradition I want to enjoy with our kiddies. For now, that’s not the important part.
So, off we went to the grocery store and bought a tightly wrapped tree. We drove home with it sticking out the window and our jackets zipped tight. Varun valiantly carried it through the parking garage. Into the elevator. To the stand….and then catastrophe struck.
The tree began to fall.
I grabbed it. Actually, I screamed. Then I grabbed it.
And then the stand began gushing water. We had dinner plans and don’t own a backup Christmas tree stand (why ever not?), so the tree was tossed onto the balcony until further notice.
The tree spent the entire week in exile on our balcony. The stand sat in our living room, filled with water and not even dripping a drop.
Saturday morning Varun decided to surprise me by putting up the tree while I was visiting a neighbour.
The stand wasn’t leaking any more, but then again, the tree would not stand up straight. We took a look at it, looked at our ‘to-do’ list and decided to pretend it was straight. I sent a picture to my family and went about my day.
In true family fashion, my loved ones sent helpful comments in reply:
Needless to say, each time we came home we’d turn the key in the lock and eagerly check to see if the tree had fallen. It didn’t. Sunday evening was Date Night. We decided to fix and decorate the tree, sip mugs of steaming hot chocolate and listen to the Hobbit. While I stirred our Delicious Fair Trade Hot Chocolate, Varun kept asking me for random objects.
Varun: Do you use this sharpie?
Amelia: Um, not often. No. Why?
Varun: I want to put it in the Christmas tree stand.
Finally, Varun solved our Christmas tree stand/crooked tree problem by putting a wrench in the stand to help hold up the tree. I have no idea what that means, except that he said to put the lights on very carefully and to not bump it because the tree is ‘very sensitive‘.
So yes, Dad. That was an Engineer next to the Christmas tree, and he did fix it. Although not in the way you might expect…
Anyway. The crooked tree was nothing a wrench, hot chocolate and a little decorating couldn’t fix. This is our tree: simple, not super big nor super beautiful. Covered in icicles, dollar store ornaments and homemade decorations. It’s not particularly lovely smelling nor does it even have matching strands of lights. But you know what? We love it.
Every time I look at our scrawny and imperfect tree, I think of the first Christmas: of the paradox of a King born in a stable. The damp hay, the braying animals, the cold night air. On a certain level, the imperfection is proof that He was really here, to dwell among us. The mismatched lights remind me of the incredible ray of hope brought by that birth 2,000 years ago to a mismatched and flawed world.
So as far as Christmas trees go, I’d say it serves its purpose. And I think we’ve begun a tradition of decorating imperfect Christmas trees on lazy Sundays. Which if you ask me, is a tradition I can perpetuate.