“If your mom and I were to get a divorce, who would you live with?” my dad asked.
“Mom. She’d have the prettier Christmas tree,” said my sister.
I’ve pretty much relegated all Christmas tree duties to JJ. His time at the funeral home equipped him to be much better at making things pretty than I can muster – and his patience with such activity has a higher threshold, especially with kids. So I make some hot chocolate while they dig out the ornaments and wrap ribbon. I have to say, our tree is the perfect balance of beauty and nostolgia. From here I can see ornaments such as baby booties (H Boy’s), a silver martini glass (a gift from my mom), a candy-cane inspired “H”, a pillow cross-stitched in 1981and bright red metallic “peace” “love” and “joy.” With white lights aglow, it’s quite perfect.
I’ve always tended to sit on the sideline of Christmas tree events. Growing up we had the most perfect tree. It was (quite literally) 8 pieces. a pole, 7 large hanging racks and a topper. Through the early years we’d adorn it with macaroni-made ornaments, some tinsel and multi-colored lights.
My mom hated it.
If there’s one thing my mom does well, it’s make things beautiful. But the nature of our tree was anything but. As our home became more and more decorated by Taste of Country, or later, Pottery Barn, the kid-tree just wasn’t hitting the spot for her. So one day she declared mutiny.
She bought all white lights. My sister was outraged.
“But I want the tree to be pretty,” mom pleaded. “But it’s just not Christmasy!” Ang fought back. “They’re boooorrr-rrring.” After about 2 more years of making a ruckus, mom finally got her white lights. New ornaments started infiltrating our stockings to be hung the following year.
Then came the campaigning for a new tree altogether. “Why would you want a new tree? This one works fine,” Dad argued. I believe these wishes went at least 3-4 years, into my late high school or early college years, before she’d had it.
One day, she went to Bellefontaine and, after rounding a corner in our bus of a van, swiped a parked car. She was frustrated. She had to call dad. After explaining what happened, Dad told her he’d be down to pick her up in the car after a while. “Well, see, that presents an issue…. I also bought a new Christmas tree.”
Thus some serious discussion at home. It soon became a joke, the way mom had caused such a stirring in our arborous life. At some point a loud and comical conversation ensued about how this new tree was going to end our family, that dad would divorce her over an evergreen. Thus, him asking who we would live with. And Angie’s witty response.
And it was all fun and comedy until we took it out of the box. 5,000 pieces. (Slight exaggeration). And mom had already given away the 8-piece tree to the high school. Color coded limbs, bags upon bags of pieces to figure out what level they needed assembled… “but it’s so full and pretty,” Mom reminded us.
I believe JJ heard this story a few times before we were wed. He helped me put up my tree once while we were dating, with much complaint. Then again while we were engaged, with a warning: we were going to be purchasing a real tree for our married life. Between the nightmare 5,000-piece tree and his love of tradition (this being his own), he wasn’t going to risk any tree debacles.
Thus, I sit back and enjoy my tree, as is.