Trimming the Tree

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The day after Thanksgiving, as tradition holds, we put up our Christmas tree.

Growing up in Washington state, on a Christmas tree farm no less, we always had freshly cut trees. I'd go with my dad each year, he was dressed in a thick quilted flannel, carrying a chainsaw, and we'd pick the perfect tree, chop it down, and carry it back home. He'd throw it over his shoulder, and we'd walk down the gravel road back to the house together. I think there were a few years where we drove, but those aren't the times I remember. When I close my eyes and concentrate hard enough, I can still feel the sting of the cold on my finger tips and nose. I can smell the saw dust that lingered in the air, long after the chainsaw had stopped running. And best of all, I can hear my dads laugh, as if he were sitting here right next to me.

There was no announcement to indicate the last year of our tradition. No red flag, no hint of "enjoy this while you can Tia, because this is the end of the road for you". One year it just, stopped. Life got rocky, for my parents. We moved from our home on the Christmas tree farm, into a house in the city. 6 months after the move, our house flooded. We continued to live there for a few years, things never having gone back to normal after the disaster, but then moved from that house, to a new house, back out in the country- only to have that house taken away, for reasons beyond my parents control. By that point, my dad had turned into a total Grinch, and Christmas was more of a chore to him than anything else.

We never went out for another Christmas tree.

Maybe if our Christmas tree hunting would have ended on a better note, I'd be more interested in continuing on with the tradition, but because it breaks my heart to think about the transformation in my dads holiday cheer, I haven't wanted another live tree since.

My first Christmas in Portland, when I lived in my 300 square foot studio apartment, I had borrowed a little fiber-optic tree from a friend of my moms. It was beautiful though, perfect for me and my new downtown girl city life. By that point, I had met Christopher. He flew home for Christmas that year, to visit his family up in Boise, and I remember one night laying on my bed alone, watching my tree flash from one color to to the next, wondering what life had in store for me. I was laying in my apartment. Next to a fake tree. There were a few gifts under it, things that I had gotten for some friends of mine, wrapped in newspaper that I had gotten from the deli on the corner. It was a completely different kind of Christmas that I was used to.

It was at that moment, that I realized, Christmas can be whatever I want it to be. And I want it to be wonderful, no matter what. I want it to be magical.

Years later, after Christopher and I had gotten married, moved down to Texas, and had our first child, we decided to buy a tree. Not a real tree, but a fake tree, that we could count on being in our lives every year. Our tradition, would be to put up our 7ft Martha Stewart tree (we got it at a 50% off sale, snagged the last one right off the display) the day after Thanksgiving. We would listen to Christmas music and decorate everything in sight, until Christmas spirit is spilling out of our ears. There will be no bah humbugging allowed in this house, ever. No matter what.

You're going to be cheery, and you're going to like it.

Eleanore loved hanging up the ornaments. She got so overwhelmed by the excitement that she started tripping over her own feet, and stumbling on her words. She went on and on and on about "trimmings" and "Santa Claus". You know the part in a Charlie Brown Christmas, where Lucy is asking Linus to play Jingle Bells? Well that's Eleanore's favorite part.

"Play Jingle Bells. No, Jingle Bells! You know, like Santa Claus, and ho ho ho, and mistletoe, and presents for pretty girls?"- shes constantly making us reenact that scene with her, haha. And as annoying as it can get, we love it.

At the end of the night, our tree was set up in its corner, surrounded by Jingle Bears, Christmas records, and pinwheel ornaments. We're officially in the Christmas spirit. And the Grinch, well he'll be visiting us for the first time ever, in approximately 4 weeks. I think Eleanore, in her adorable red and green tutu, can show him a thing or two about how Christmas is done.


ElegantSnobbery November 29, 2009 at 8:34 AM  

JINGLE BEARS! I wonder what happened to mine?

We dont' have a Christmas tradition. Every year, since we've been married, has been different. Sometimes a tree, sometimes no tree, sometimes we decorate... mostly not. This is the first year in our very own house and we told my family that we wouldn't be making the 4 hour drive for Christmas because we want Santa to visit OUR house. And we're getting a tree. A real one, that will smell lovely and the kittens will probably knock over. I can't wait!

AlyGatr November 29, 2009 at 2:11 PM  

Christmas trees...real ones, were always a luxury in Hawaii. The were hugely expensive to have because they had to be shipped over the ocean in refrigerated containers...and we were never able to afford them...well, except for one year when my sister and I were in college, both had jobs and split the cost three ways with my parents. I loved that damn tree.

The first year we were married we had two we had to do the table top Charlie Brown tree that came with the ornaments....I think we paid $10 for it at the BX. Once...only once, when we lived in an apartment in Boston did we have a real tree. It was so big we ended up having to cut some of it off to get it in the apartment. Since Amelia was born, all we've had is fake (I didn't want anyone eating pine needles). We got a really pretty one at Garden Ridge on sale when we moved to Houston...and I love it :)

soul_searching_mama November 29, 2009 at 6:57 PM  

We always had an artificial tree growing up. Which is fine with me, though, since I loathe the smell of pine...even though I grew up in eastern WA state, which is pine tree country. I'm crazy like that. ;) We have an artificial tree (until such a time that God decides to make a real tree that is scentless or smells like something yummy), which we're hoping to set up in the next couple of days. My family always made a huge deal about decorating for Christmas, but my husband hates the hassle of a tree...he seriously only wants to have it up for a day or two this year. (Definitely NOT happening!) I hope to convert my Grinch just like you hope to convert yours. Good luck! Oh, and I absolutely love that your daughter was decorating the tree in her tutu!!

Johanna November 29, 2009 at 8:57 PM  

THE most beautiful picture EVER! Your little Eleanore is just precious and love that you have made Christmas what you want it to be and not what it used to be. I think that's so important!
Wishing you so much love and peace!

Betsy December 1, 2009 at 2:25 PM  

It's beautiful! I love your Christmas tradition!

~ Maranda @ {Evoke Images} ~ December 3, 2009 at 8:34 AM  

Oh I love the pictures! My man and I are getting a real tree this Christmas for the first time in the 5 years we have been together. He has never had a real tree, and that is all that I had growing up! I still remember trekking through the snow at the tree farm, trying to find the "perfect" tree. We would cut it down, and have it tied on the top of our old station wagon (which we called Mr. Sullivan!). After that, mom would pull out the thermos of hot chocolate and we would drive around looking at Christmas lights and listening to Christmas songs on the radio for hours....

Your tree is beautiful and so is your blog! I am your swap buddy through Pickles and Pizza, and I can't wait to get started on your package =) Happy Holidays!

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