It seemed like waiting to pick out a Christmas tree until Katie arrived in Pennsylvania, the week of Christmas, was a brilliant idea. We’d pick out the perfect tree sometime between the 18th and the 23rd of December, set it up on Christmas Eve eve and decorate the tree when Jeff flew in on the 24th. We’d enjoy all of the Christmas with less of the mess.
On the day she arrived we ran out of daylight, time, and motivation but being the eternal optimist (that is when I’m not worrying) I knew we still had plenty of time and there would be no issue getting a tree that would be ‘just right.’ I have to admit I started getting a little nervous when the place we usually buy our trees from closed down their operation a week before Christmas. However since there were two other places nearby I stood steadfast in my confidence right up until I woke up in a cold sweat at 4:00 a.m. the morning of the 23rd, I was suddenly certain that all of the Christmas trees were gone. I tossed and turned while I anxiously racked my brain for plan B, C, or Z.
Thankfully I had to take Christian to school on Friday morning which gave me the perfect excuse to take a detour on the way home and scope out the remaining trees. After all if I had gotten up and driven by the Christmas tree place with no other reason to leave the house, it would have sounded nuts. I breathed a big sigh of relief when I saw there were more than a few trees left, a bit scraggly, maybe not as ‘perfect’ as I had hoped, but then again it’s all a matter of perspective.
Frantic to get to the tree place before the final rush of procrastinators, I decided it was not a morning for sleeping in and I rousted my reluctant daughter out of bed and by 9:30 a.m. we were at the lot scoping out the remaining trees. We picked the best one, deemed it ‘perfect’ and watched in awe as the guy from the nursery spun a clever four strand web of twine over the tree and through the car to secure it tightly to the roof.
Unlike last year, the trunk slid easily into the tree stand and there was no need for a last minute trip to Sears to buy a new one. After a bit of good natured squabbling about which direction to move the tree we stood back to admire it.
“It’s lopsided,” Christian declared.
“Don’t worry, it’ll fluff out overnight and be just fine,” I replied.
Christmas Eve arrived I surveyed the tree and it had fluffed out overnight, but much to my chagrin no matter how many times I spun it around, Christian’s declaration remained true. The shape of the tree was far from perfect and although the worst side of the tree was positioned into the corner I couldn’t deny that it leaned to the left.
After a trip to the airport, a stop at the grocery store, dinner preparations, gift wrapping, and a very strange church service the tree was no straighter than when I had looked at it earlier in the day. I was a little disappointed in it, my kids however, declared it to be just right.
“All you have to do is look at it from this angle and you can’t even tell it’s crooked,” said Jeff.
“And once we get the lights and ornaments on it’ll be even better,” Christian added.
I smiled as I watched my kids transform from three young adults into giggling children while they decorated the tree. After some lighthearted debate they agreed to hang all of the stars and glass balls they could rescue, the traditional wooden figures and angels, a keepsake from the Caribbean, and even the homemade felt snowman who has only ever had one eye. I had to admit the tree ended up being ‘perfect.’
Christmas morning arrived and we settled in to exchange gifts and a lot of laughter. I passed out the presents and we decided the opening order.
“You know you have to go last Mommy. If you hadn’t jumped the gun and opened your other present early there would be more under the tree for you, so now you have to wait,” Katie teased me.
(The story of the full length mirror and the early Fed Ex delivery is one I will never live down.)
After many gifts, smiles, thank you’s and hugs it was time to open my present. I had no idea what to expect and I felt they had already been way too generous with the gift of the mirror. My fingers trembled as I worked my way through the tape and wrapping paper. I opened the box, reached for the flat orange envelope and slid a spiral bound gift with a shutterfly logo onto my lap. I turned it over and my kids grinned as my eyes filled with tears.
On the cover was a picture of the four of us and a quote from Love You Forever (Robert N. Munsch and Sheila McGraw) a book I read to each of them no fewer than a thousand times, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my mommy you’ll be.” Tears continued to stream down my face as I flipped from one personalized month to the next, each page contained a collage of digital memories.
Jeff and Christian nodded and smiled while Katie exclaimed, “We hit it out of the ball park boys!”
They did indeed.