A Little Change
This holiday season I embraced “a little change” and I wanted to let you know that I am feeling fine with it.
Have I gotten lazy? Of course not!
Did I give in? Well, let’s just say that I made an “adjustment”.
Do I feel all right? I sure do!
“Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.” (Sydney J. Harris)
For each of my past 37 adult years, I have put up a fresh-cut Christmas tree. A few times when the kids were little, we even went to a tree farm to cut it down. It smelled so-oo-oo good. Fitting the over-sized piney purchase into the station wagon was the first step and leftover dried needles appeared in the cargo area through July as a reminder of the season.
Tree stands were always an issue and one year, due to a substandard product, the entire decorated tree fell over, crushing several ornaments. The kids looked on in horror as if Christmas was just cancelled. As a result we upgraded to a holder that required a drilled hole in the bottom of the trunk so that the evergreen could have a snug fit on a metal peg.
Keeping the tree hydrated was always my job and once a day I would do an Army-style crawl under the low branches to add water to quench its thirst. Keeping our dog Harry away from the fresh liquid was an additional job and I had to I constantly discouraged him from drinking from the large bowl and later gave him extra treats to reduce his temptation to relieve himself on the available indoor shrubbery.
I have fond childhood “tree memories” too. When it was time to get our family Christmas tree in Dad’s pick-up truck, I would get very excited. One time, when we brought the newly cut tree into our family room, we observed that our chosen specimen wasn’t quite as straight as we thought it was when previously standing outside in the field. Putting his engineering skills to good use, Dad quickly solved the problem with an eyehook in the adjacent wall attached to a thin guide wire. That year we had to make sure not to move around to the back of the tree or else we would get decapitated.
Good memories! Fun times!
So why did I make “a little change”?
Well, as the years have progressed, there have been some variations. The kids are now grown and out of the house. My daughter is married with her own family and they are starting their own Christmas memories. Now don’t get me wrong, my son and daughter continue to help out with holiday decorating. In fact we usually pick out the tree on the Friday after Thanksgiving and everyone is there to put it up. They are great holiday elves and now the grandchildren also lend a hand.
This year Thanksgiving was early. After our meal my husband Tom suggested that we look at an artificial tree that he had scoped out that morning. Still fresh in everyone’s minds was last year’s disastrous tree removal scene, so each family member was immediately on board. The seven of us crammed into my daughter’s van to check out the new prospect.
Last January I was still immobilized and recovering from ankle surgery so I needed more help than normal taking down the tree. Usually I am the one to carefully pack-up the treasured handmade ornaments in their proper containers. Then, I insist that a sheet be wrapped around the dried out tree to contain some of the falling needles and I am the one positioned at the base to grab the gooey trunk to carefully lift it out of the pitch infused cloudy water. Particular attention must be given to the angle of the tree so as not to tip over the remaining liquid. Each year I dread this part of the holidays and the kids delight in my anxiety and consternation.
But last year I was seated far away on the couch in my pink bathrobe, relegated to spectator status. I was not able to participate at all. At first my daughter very carefully took down all of the decorations. She respected my wishes and put everything back in the correct boxes since she knew how important this was to me. In order to appease me, a weak attempt was made by the men to bundle up the tree in a sheet. And then it was time for the official exit.
“Watch the water…be careful of the trunk…don’t scrape the wall…” I meekly expressed the usual orders from afar.
Consumed with wrestling the conifer, no one really wanted to hear directions from a disabled bystander.
Slosh, slosh. My worst nightmare came true. Over went the plastic bowl with the dirty residue, forming a puddle on the Oriental rug and siphoning its vibrant blue and red dyes into the light carpet below.
“Quick, get towels!” I shouted, and with determination I advanced towards the disaster scene with my walker like Sherman marching on Atlanta.
Then on all fours with the tipped over walker next to me and my lower left leg outstretched in a clumsy medical support device, I started madly blotting up the mess with anything within reach. Sweating from a combination of frustration and from the radiating heat of my heavy flannel pajamas, now decorated with pine needles stuck to the knees, I muttered a string of non-holiday phrases.
It was not my finest hour.
The tree eventually got out and the foam rug cleaning solution took away most of the stain on the decorative carpet which in turn covered up the permanent mess underneath.
This vivid reminder to all made for a quick and easy decision that night. The 9 foot artificial Frazier pine with 2000 attached tiny lights was just the ticket. I was amazed at how real it looked in the store and we happily returned home to await its arrival the next day.
So, this year I will not have to worry if we have to get the tree out on our own. I can take my time un-decorating the tree since there is nothing to dry out. Why I can even keep it up until Valentine’s Day!
It looks like Christmas once again in our home. The outside is decorated with colored lights. Special figurines and displays adorn every corner of the first floor. Some cookies are already in the freezer and gifts are hidden on the third floor, waiting to be wrapped. Our new tree is decorated with all of its usual homemade ornaments and shiny glass balls. Memories are on each branch and a nearby pine scented candle fills the air with its sweet aroma. But our Christmas is much more than the decorations that I bring out once a year. It is the love and joy that we share when we are together during this special time of year as we give thanks for the greatest gift of all, the birth of Jesus Christ.
“Just because everything is different doesn’t mean anything has changed.” (Irene Peter)
Merry Christmas to all!