by Connie Hand
When I lit the Christmas tree this evening, I sat down and gazed dreamily at its ribbons, lights, and decorations. Christmas is a magical season and the tree is part of that magic.
All of a sudden, I started to chuckle as I thought of our first Christmas many years ago and the disaster of putting up our first fresh-cut tree.
That December 23rd, I knew putting up our tree in the evening would be perfect with a little planning. I got out the glistening new ornaments and ribbons. There were about eight strings of tiny white lights. The tree was on the porch cut just so that it would fit in the waiting tree stand. We were excited and looking forward to a lovely evening trimming our tree while listening to Christmas music and toasting our first Christmas together. It would be the beginning of making our own holiday traditions.
I got out two crystal flutes, an ice bucket with a bottle of champagne, a splurge of caviar, some crackers, and deluxe mixed nuts while my husband, Jeff carried in our perfect tree. He put the tree in the red stand and screwed the fasteners tightly. He stood back proudly and looked at me expectantly. As the smile on his face turned into a look of panic, I managed to squeak out “It’s crooked”. He insisted it was straight and then stood back to admire his handiwork. As he sheepishly turned to me, he admitted that it was very crooked. The tree came down but recutting the trunk proved impossible so I suggested putting some paper coasters under a leg of the stand. We finally had a straight tree.
Next we were stringing the lights. Being new at tree trimming, we strung the lights - all eight long strands and stood back as we lit our wonderful tree. I was still hopeful that it would be a magical evening.Well, of course, only five of the strings lit up! I could feel the tension growing as I looked at Jeff’s face. He was sweating, his face was red, and I began to squirm.
Frustrated and disappointed he drove off to the store. Luckily, it was still open. When he arrived home about an hour later cold ( it had started to snow) and not in a Christmas mood, he told me the store was very crowded but he tried the lights before buying them. So the lights were restrung and lit so now it was time to hang the ornaments and drape the ribbons. By the time I lovingly hung each new ornament, my husband, Jeff was starting to nod his head. It was late and we were both exhausted as he placed the angel at the very top of the tree. It was almost 11:30p.m. The champagne went unopened, the same with the caviar, and I figured the little birds in the yard would enjoy the crackers and nuts.Without saying much we crawled into bed. The tree trimming was a disaster.
The next day was Christmas Eve and we awoke rested and excited. We looked out the window at the new fallen snow. The beauty of the sun glistening on the snow gave me hope that it would be a great day. We went into the living room and Jeff lit the tree. We stood back and admired our work. We looked at each other and burst out laughing, any frustration from the previous night forgotten. Happily, we had a brunch of scrambled eggs, homemade muffins, caviar, and a glass of champagne while listening to Christmas music. I guess we tried too hard to make trimming our tree perfect.
Now when we trim our tree we use the coasters if the tree is crooked, test the lights BEFORE they get strung on the tree, and then on go the ribbons and ornaments, and finally, the angel at the top. We usually decorate on a week-end day instead of waiting for the evening when we are tired and could get cranky. We salute our tree with a glass of the bubbly as we sing some Christmas songs. Of course, we have improved through the years with this Christmas tradition.
I’ve learned not to expect perfection and can handle these situations a bit better. I now have a Plan B or even C for tree trimming day. So I get less stressed and the same goes for those around me. Even more interesting is the fact that over the years, nieces, nephews, and friends have described their first tree trimming debacle. Most were very similar to ours and the stories provide a good laugh and an excellent lesson in great expectations crumbling into great fiascos.
Each year, I try to find some time at Christmas and the Holiday Season to relax and savor the joys of old memories while making new ones.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone and if you are putting up a tree .....Good Luck and enjoy!
Connie Hand was born and raised in New Jersey. She is a former educator. She has traveled extensively over the years and photographed her trips to many states in the U.S., to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean islands, Europe, and South America. Connie continues to travel and writes about her experiences. She lives in Florida and New Jersey with her husband, Jeff.
[photography by ShedBOy^ via flickr.com common license.]