Last week I had high hopes (or plans) to put up our Christmas tree on Saturday. I knew it was a little iffy, with Daniel having his audition for Mid-state Jazz Band and homework. The thought of getting it all out and mostly doing all of the decorating myself started stressing me out. Then I went with my mom and sister to a grief seminar about dealing with the holidays. One of the take-aways I got was that when grieving the loss of a loved one, you can change the way you do things, for one year, or forever. Basically, I took that as a great opportunity to not put up our big Christmas tree this year.
Believe me, I wavered and spent a few days being wishy-washy about it. Daniel told me that he was fine with whatever I wanted to do (although he thought I'd "regret it later" and also had to point out that next year will be his "last Christmas before he graduates"), so I decided that I'd use a small table-top tree that my mom wasn't using and have a scaled-down Christmas this year.
This week, I was telling some friends about my decision and one of them started telling us about an unfortunate incident involving their Christmas tree and some mice who decided to make a nest in the tree while it was in storage. Needless to say, this family was planning to get a new tree this year, although they would rather wait until the after-Christmas deals. I had a sudden "brilliant idea" and offered for my friends to borrow our tree!
During the whole Christmas tree conversation that I had with my friends, we started remembering other Christmas trees that had made "history" for us. One that popped into my head was the year when I was growing up and we convinced my mom to let us get a real tree. My parents always stood their ground together every year when we'd ask to replace our aging artificial tree with a real tree, so this particular year, when my dad went out of town for a conference or something a couple of weeks before Christmas, my sister and I were able to "wear down" our mom's resolve and off to the tree lot we went. We brought some family friends and it turned out to be one of the most fun afternoons ever! We laughed and joked as we searched for the "perfect" tree and once we found it and got it home, we decorated it and got it all ready to surprise my dad when he got home from his trip. I don't really remember his reaction, but I do remember that we continued getting real Christmas trees for several years after that!
My other favorite Christmas tree memory happened the year that Daniel was born. We thought it would be fun to go to a Christmas tree farm to buy a tree, so after church one Sunday, Daniel stayed with my sister, and we went down to Thompson's Station to find a tree. Well, I'm somewhat picky about my trees and I didn't particularly like the type of trees they grew there, so we left without a tree and drove to find a regular tree lot where we could find more of a variety. We ended up at Hillsboro High School in Green Hills and when we walked in, we told a salesperson what our price range was and he led us to one solitary row of trees to look at. We browsed the row and didn't see anything we wanted, so we turned to walk toward the exit. A man who looked like Santa Claus stopped us and asked us where we were going without a tree. We explained that we hadn't found anything in our price range, so he brought us to another section and indicated that we could find whatever tree we wanted in that area and we could have it for the amount we could spend.
We looked a little longer at the larger selection and found what we felt was the "perfect" tree. We lugged it over to the place where they wrapped them and cut off the bottom of the trunk and started the check-out process. The original sales guy (who happened to be the owner of the business) came up and looked at the tree we had picked out and said, "Wait! You can't have that tree! It's a ???-dollar tree." (I can't remember the amount now.) He said that the tree we wanted had been put in the wrong place and it was a mistake. We were disappointed, but we didn't want to pay more than we had originally told him, so we turned and started to walk away again. He had a quick change of heart and called us back and told us we could have the tree for the price we wanted to pay.
We took that tree home to our apartment and it took up a good third of the living room (and I think we had to cut some more off to get it inside). We got it decorated with our growing collection of ornaments and enjoyed having such a beautiful tree for Daniel's first Christmas (he was almost six months old).
Back to this year, I'm planning to still decorate the house with our Nativity sets and am using our Christmas dishes as usual. As another "scaling back" friend said, I'm having a merry "little" Christmas this year! I'm sure that I'll get back to putting up my big tree next year and will hopefully have more "favorite" tree memories in the years to come. It makes me really happy that my tree will get some use this year and love how God worked out all of those little details!