I suppose perfect is in the eye of the beholder, and I behold the lopsided slightly wonky tree in my living room to be perfect. Yes, the star has been atop a very backward bendy tip from day one, and has bowed further back week by week. Yes, there are branches seemingly missing from one side where I tried to hang extra ornaments to even things out. And yes, there are many, many places on my tree where 2-4 of the same colored ornament hang next to each other creating “duos” that my 6 year old is very pleased with, which would have been a cardinal sin in my childhood home.
So now add the cartoon character ornaments, the array of “themes” and colors, and the fact that I have white lights around the top and colorful lights around the bottom (an unfortunate 3rd times a charm light situation) and it’s love at first lighting. What I love is the imperfect, never would be on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens magazine feel to our tree. Don’t get me wrong here, because I adore thumbing through BH&G for inspiration and fantasies of the spaces I might live in one day, until I realize that picture perfect isn’t necessarily perfect. Decor is one thing; lovely color schemes and perfectly fluffed pillows with nary a toy in sight, beautiful indeed, but not lived in.
I realize that many would crinkle their brows in confusion, or wonder why I allow my 6 year old to hang every ornament we own anywhere she chooses, or even go so far as to think our tree is tacky. Fine, your tacky is my joy. Joy because she’s only going to be 6 once, and by the time she’s 16 she may have better things to do than help mom decorate the tree. Joy because in her zeal for creating “duos” and strategically placing Frankie Stein on a bough, and Rainbow Dash so that everyone can see her cutie mark, I see Christmas.
I see the innocence and pure joy of what this time of year is about, not just for those of us who celebrate the Christian holiday, but for everyone who is celebrating during this time of year in joyful, loving and heartfelt ways. There is a freedom in such pure, innocent joy; having fun with a task that as adults, many of us have done so often, we question if it’s even worth setting up a tree, or decorating our homes. I fear that our holidays, spiritual or otherwise, have just melded into our lives as another task to complete or day to get through. But when my daughter rushes to the switch after school to light our identity crisis tree, her excitement reminds me that there is so much more to any given day than just getting through.
So when Loren goes back to school after her winter break is finished, I will put away all of the ornaments, 86 the crazy lights and take our now shaggy, droopy, crooked and lopsided tree to the curb. I won’t be able to do it while Loren’s here because she will be too attached to the whole thing. I don’t think it’s the tree itself so much, but the love that went into creating a work of art for our holiday celebration. And I think, because it is a project we did together while singing along to upbeat Christmas songs and being silly in the moment. In this imperfect tree, joyful memories were built. And I like to believe that when she reaches adulthood these memories will stay, because though greatly appreciated, the memories of toys and trinkets that were excitedly unwrapped Christmas morning are bound to fade.
Indeed I too feel a bit of a tug at ending the season again this year, but there’s always next year; and I look forward to discovering what 7 year old Loren chooses for her newest ornament and what creative placement it receives. And when I’m old and she has her own home and family tree to decorate, I guess then I’ll create a fancy, carefully decorated tree. Or maybe not.