I like to give our Christmas trees a little pep talk as I strip them of all their glory and send them out into the frigid winter.
I felt sorry for her when she first arrived. She looked a little discombobulated, bed-headed and gaunt. “It must be rough to be born into the Frasier Fir family,” I thought. “All those expectations for Christmas glory and, maybe not every tree wants to get dressed up and pose.”
I could not tell at first if she stood there sullenly, a tree who could not be bothered to tidy her branches or stand up straight because she had better things to do in this old world. Or, if she felt scared, uprooted from all she knew and jammed into a world she didn’t understand.
Christmas trees, like almost anything else in life, often show us how inaccurate first impressions can be. This one sure did.
“You’ll be just fine,” I said (in retrospect, condescendingly) as I wrapped her in lights. “I don’t need to put all our ornaments out this year anyway. I’ll just hang what you can handle.”
Each skinny branch rose to the ornament and I just kept right on hanging. Before I knew it, every store-bought, homemade, construction paper, passed-down-from-Grandma Fey, memory-marking, travel-souvenir, St.-Nick-bringing, crystal, Styrofoam, metal, football, theatre, remember-when-Lexi-broke-the-leg-off-that-one ornament had a place on that tree.
She held her needles and all those ornaments proudly through the whole, confounding Christmas season.
Sometimes, early in the morning, I’d sneak down to sip my tea and admire her.
“You really are beautiful,” I’d say. “And I’m sorry I doubted you.”
Here’s the thing about beauty that tree taught me, once again. You don’t have to change who you are at all, and you really shouldn’t.
Relieved of her decorations, our tree displayed all the weirdly aligned branches she had before because they were there the whole time. She held those ornaments and those lights exactly the way she wanted.
I’m hoping our tree gets to join her friends on Lake Winnebago, lining a safe path across the ice during sturgeon spearing season. Or, that she becomes mulch and lets her bad ass self seep into the ground to encourage more living things to grow into who they were meant to be exactly the way they should.