My husband calls me a tree bigot. In fact, he used these exact words in reference to me on Sunday. At church. From the pulpit. The pulpit I tell you. When I told him I should blog about my Christmas tree opinions he replied with, "You should."
Me: I should as in should should or I should as in should shouldn't.
Troy: Should as in should should as long as you carefully choose your words. I wouldn't want you to lose any of your six loyal readers.
First, it should be noted that Troy and I have conversations like this all the time. Conversations that wouldn't make sense to anyone but us, really. I have drawn the conclusion that these past six years have been damaging to our ability to communicate with the rest of the world but, perhaps, have strengthened our marriage as we have developed a language seemingly all our own. Additionally, should begins to look horribly misspelled when you type it 72,000 times.
Anyway, back to the fact that I'm a total dogmatist when it comes to Christmas trees. I love myself a real, live, slaughtered on the farm, Christmas tree. I detest synthetic trees. But let me tell you why. When I was a kid the only fake trees I ever saw were ridiculously hideous. They were horrendously lopsided, "pine needles" (and I use that term loosely) were matted together, and the branches started three feet from the ground. My friend had one such tree. Her home was always impeccably decorated. Garland rode the banister in gorgeous loops, Christmas tunes filled the rooms from the first of December into the beginning of January, and the reds and greens were splattered everywhere in festive harmony. It was a snapshot of Christmas as it should be--except the hideous, misplaced, plastic tree. And hers wasn't the only one I'd been subjected to. Fake trees, in my opinion, were a Christmas abomination.
Now. Well, now they make gorgeous "Pre-lit Christmas Trees" and I myself have even admired some of them as I walk through stores. I have even (gasp!) wondered about purchasing such a tree. It is, after all, an option. An option, that is, if Garrett developed severe allergies and it was determined that he would die of anaphylactic shock if we brought a real tree into the house. Forget about it if I were put in the same predicament. I'd buy a surgical mask and take my chances. Or I'd fashion an igloo in my backyard and allow my family the joy of having a real Christmas tree.
I do understand that some people have to have a fake tree. I get it. I really do. I'd rather you have a fake tree than suffer from exploding sinuses all December long. I'd rather you have a fake tree than a cat who climbs your real one. Although, honestly, I've never understood this reasoning. If you have an animal who plays in a real tree, won't he play in a fake tree as well? And, of course, I have other exceptions to my own bigoted rule. College students, for example, ought to have a small fake tree adorning their dorm room and not deal with the possibility that sap will stain the carpet thus explaining the strange cleaning bill they have to pay before being allowed to walk with their graduating class. The elderly are not expected to get on their hands and knees to clean up pine needles and constantly water a real tree. Or, say, people who live on yachts. They should maybe get a break too.
But a real tree. That's where it's at. And the number one reason for such a conclusion is...the smell. Troy wondered, from the pulpit, if I would be alright with a fake tree as long as he hung pine scented air freshner from it. Yes dear, that would make it exactly the same. I love the way my house smells when we have a pine tree residing in it. It is the only thing that smells exactly like Christmas and, well, Lake Tahoe which I also happen to love. And I love the way that you have to hide the holes and show the best side, much like we try to do with our own selves. I mean, come on, a real tree is like, I don't know, a metaphor for life. I love that you don't have to store them! I love figuring out which ornaments will weigh down which branches for optimum Christmas tree perfection. I love hiding Ms. Piggy on the back and then praying I remember to take her off so that she doesn't get shipped to the recycling plant. I love watering it and hoping beyond hope that it doesn't dry out too much before Christmas.
And I love watching the lights twinkle when the rest of the room is dark. This year, Garrett has been amazingly good with our tree. There is one ornament that he is obsessed with touching. Humorously, it is a Chargers bulb so I hesitate to get on him too much--I'm too busy trying to make a fan out of him. Otherwise, he hasn't tried to climb it, pull ornaments off, or yank needles from branches. He's been, kind of, in awe of it I think.
Lately he has started offering "I love yous" unprompted. It's pretty much the most adorable thing in the history of the world (ever!). He hears us respond to each other with, "I love you, too." So, naturally, that's how he says it. Even when he's not prompted with "I love you" first. As we sat together and watched the twinkly lights of our tree, our conversation went something like this.
Me: Garrett, Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Jon and Aunt Heather are going to come and visit us after Santa comes.
Garrett: Ho Ho Ho!
Me: Yep. Santa will come on Christmas Eve. He's really fun but what's the real meaning of Christmas?
Garrett: Baby Jesus.
Me: That's right.
Then we sat quietly for a few moments and suddenly Garrett turned his attention away from the tree, grabbed my face between his two chubby little hands and stared deep into my eyes. "I love you too, Mommy."
I felt my heart surge just a tiny bit and I answered back, "And I love you, Garrett." Then we turned our attention back to our real, live tree. It's branches don't wait for three feet to start and it's needles aren't bent and misshapen from eleven months in the attic. It smells like pine and magic and Christmas memories being formed, anew.