Today, I’m finishing the decorations on our third Christmas tree. I got out the decorations early last week, and early is the key word here. I usually do not decorate until the second week in December. In truth, some years were later than that. But, whether we were here or vacationing for the holiday, as we did twice, we always had a tree.
About three years ago, when Sears was going out of business, we bought a “fake” tree more commonly known as an “artificial tree” complete with pre-strung lights. It was a deal and I’d been thinking of going from a real tree to a “fake” tree for some time. Before this time, we always had real trees. Most years we went and cut them, too. You just can’t beat the wonderful smell that permeates the house with a real tree. But, as the boys got older, and busier, with jobs and after school activities, it ended up being just my husband and I going off to forage for a tree. It also doesn’t help that it is dark here in Wisconsin by 4:30 at this time of year. Weekends were never very convenient because of my husband having to work his share of those. I have to admit, it was an activity that even with the boys, I never really enjoyed. I seemed resigned to pick quick, although no one was pressuring me to do so. I recall saying, “that one will do,” more than once.
Over the years, we learned to pick a fir – either Douglas or Fraser (my favorite) – due to their long needle retention. When the boys were very small, and we were new to Wisconsin and their tree farms, we bought a pre-cut tree off of a parking lot in our town. One year, we made the dreadful decision of picking a blue spruce and while pretty, its needles were gone in a week, and before the holiday, no less! We’ve never chosen a blue spruce again.
Now that we’ve gone to artificial trees, I can put them up a tree whenever I desire. No more waiting for assistance to bring the tree in from outside, give the trunk a fresh cut, or water it twice daily. It seemed easier. And, for that reason, I thought I’d decorate earlier and perhaps, enjoy it more.
But, alas, as I finish up the third tree in a week, I am again dealing with a lack of enjoyment with this task. Don’t get me wrong. I love the holidays. But, it seems, I don’t like the decorating. I don’t know what it is about it but I know I could do without it.
The amount of extra work for a short period of time boggles my mind. Perhaps, it is because our holidays are always quiet. The only family that comes is my sister-in-law, and this year, she’s not making the trip. While I like getting out the ornaments which are carefully saved from year to year, some handmade by the boys, and some sewn by both my mom and my mother-in-law. We’ve lovingly saved them all. We have ornaments from trips, ornaments from West Germany (when there was one), and ornaments passed down from our families. We also have a batch of ornaments given to us by people significant on our life’s journey such as my best friend in college, my sister, secret Santa gifts, and more. Our ornaments document milestone events as well, such as our marriage, the boys’ birth years, a beloved pet, the start of pre-school, second grade, a new career, choice of musical instrument and on and on, it goes. So, I know I could never part with these precious memory makers. But, putting them on our tree(s) is just not “doing” it for me.
I wasn’t sure whether decorating a third tree would be a smart idea for me, given I knew I had these ambivalent feelings about holiday decorating. But, since we’ve been spending more time at the cabin this year, I decorated a pencil tree there, yesterday. It does add a nice festive touch to our cozy timber frame in the woods. But, today, when I knew I had finishing the third tree on my to-so list, I just wanted to get it done.
It’s still not. There are roughly a dozen ornaments left to put on – all pine cone shapes and a few odd ones that I had removed the hooks from last year. But, I’ll finish after dinner and then be able to admire my handiwork. (It’s on to the mantle, then.)
As I told my husband when I pulled out the decorations, the reward for me is seeing it finished. I love the sight of a well decorated tree, lit in the dark corner of a room, and for the next few weeks that’s what I’ll enjoy.
O Tannenbaum, I wish you did more to help me get my Christmas on.