There used to be a lot of pomp and circumstance around finding the “perfect” Christmas tree. Before we had kids, we’d walk the dog to the pop-up lot on the corner in the city – one of those busy, bustling city corners that became a winter wonderland overnight, as if Santa himself sprinkled some pixie dust and transformed 86th Street and 2nd Avenue into a forest full of pine-scented perfection. We would set out after lunch with a spring in our step and Santa hats on our heads – and, on the head of our faithful four-legged friend (poor pet!). We’d bicker a bit as we searched for our own royal Tannenbaum. “That’s too tall. Too fat. Too short. Too skinny. Too crooked.” And so on. And then, as if an angel from heaven was smiling down upon us, we’d find it. The perfect tree.
We’d carry it several city blocks back to our apartment, put it in its stand, open a bottle of wine and cook a super Sunday supper while the tree “settled.” Then, as carols played on the stereo and candles created a gentle glow, we would decorate the tree with our bellies full and wine in hand. Lights, ornaments, angel, done. We’d retire to the couch, snuggling, smooching and content in our Christmas splendor.
Fast-forward a decade plus. What was once a day to remember has turned into twelve days (or more!) with far fewer memorable moments. They go something like this…
- Day 1: Me: “Let’s get a tree today” Hubby: “We can’t. Liam has basketball, Ciara has strepp and the triplets have a birthday party.” Me: “Huh. That stinks.” Hubby: “Well, yeah but we need a tree so, why don’t you just get one at the supermarket on the way home.” Me: “Huh. That really stinks. But ok. We need a tree.” And so, with a trio of four-year olds in tow, I got us a tree.
- Days 2 and 3: Tree remains strapped to the top of the minivan. One door can’t open, causing a real inconvenience as kids and Tree are paraded to pre-school, grammar school, the pediatrician and another grocery store. Poor Tree.
- Day 4: Tree is released from the minivan. Tree enters home. Tree is unceremoniously plunked into tree stand and forgotten.
- Day 5: Tree is remembered. Tree gets water and that unbecoming white netting cut off. Tree is free!
- Day 6: Tree needs lights. We find last year’s buried in a moving box in the basement. There are three strands. Each strand has every other light out. We spend hours trying replacement bulbs. We are tired, angry and swearing. Tree spends yet another night in the dark.
- Day 7: We visit local hardware store to buy new lights for Tree. The only lights they have are halogen lights, which emit a funky glow more reminiscent of Studio 54 than the North Pole. Poor Tree. As we tuck in to bed, Tree glows, lighting up our living room and quite possibly our entire neighborhood as well.
- Day 8: Tree needs decorations. We enlist kids to help dig them out of basement and garage. Fights ensue. Christmas stockings cause a distraction. Stockings are hung. Tree remains bare. Except for those very bright lights.
- Day 9: At last! We decorate Tree! More fights ensue. Kids climb furniture to reach high branches. There is yelling, screaming, smashing and crashing as the Chipmunk’s Christmas Song blares from the Pandora “Chipmunk Christmas” station. (Yes, there is such a thing.) There is broken glass on the floor and broken ornaments on Tree. But, there are ornaments on Tree!
- Day 10: Triplets bring hand-made ornaments home from school. Two of three break leaving a trail of glitter leading to Tree. There are tears as we clean up broken ornaments and place the one still in tact on a low-hanging branch. And then that one breaks.
- Day 11: Liam and Ciara bring home ornaments from CCD. Both make it to Tree without breaking. Tree is starting to look fairly well decorated.
- Day 12: Kids are in bed. Tree is lit. Hubby and I are taking her in as we have a glass of wine (some traditions are still in tact!). We decide this is the “Tree that love built.” She is a bit crooked, her needles are falling, her lights are too bright and her ornaments are haphazard at best. But we love her and what she represents – new traditions, a growing family and the joy of the season. And, lest you should forget, Rome wasn’t built in a day so who says a tree needs to be trimmed in one?!