Until a few years ago, I always had a "real" tree. The smell permeated the house and the needles were everywhere - until at least Easter. During the early years of our marriage, we found trees lying on the side of the road (really!) or my husband was out shopping for a "bargain tree" on the 22nd! For many years, we had a "freebie" tree from my brother's Christmas tree farm. During the years when my children were "employed" as elves on the farm, we had some pretty magnificent trees but most other years we had Charlie Brown-ish trees (the kind left over late in December).
About 5 years ago, we bought a huge fake tree for our living room. I was terribly sad when we bought the tree; however, I was not really sad about the tree! At the time, my brother was fighting a losing battle with cancer and I knew that the holidays, life in general, would never be quite the same. When my husband showed me these "left over trees" from the tree warehouse, I figured I'd be giving a home to a left over tree!
Today, on a magnificent, unplanned snow day, I decorated my tree. I must admit that while I miss the smell of my real trees, I no longer despise the perfectly shaped mammoth in my living room. I got just as teary hanging my mother-in-law's "I hope all your news is good news" mail box. I felt a tear as I hung an ornament that my mother-in-law bought from Macy's long ago. I was just as wistful hanging my plastic king, one off my parent's tree. I smiled just as much as I hung my daughter's grad-school-salary-challenged-yet-magnificent-save-for-ever-ceramic dove. The memories came flooding back as I hung that old paper home made candy cane from our first, filled with only homemade (free) ornaments tree (the one found by the side of the road). I said a thank you to my brother and the other angels who watch over us every day, all year through. I said a thank you to God for the privilege of decorating another tree.
For the sake of family tradition, I will continue to complain about the fake tree. I'll moan about its weight and its loss of 'needles",. I will complain about the smell (none). Yet today, on this unplanned snow day, I was really glad that I had a tree - ready to go - that will make me smile for the next 2 weeks as I wait for Christmas! Today, I realized that Christmas is not about keeping things the same. It's not about the tree, either. It's about love - the kind that sees you through good times and not so good ones. The kind that connects and protects families. It's about the love that permeates the air when there is a tree filled with memories. The smell might even be better than pine scent!