Sentiments on Marriage and Christmas Trees

tree
Ah, The Christmas Tree.

I can’t express how much I love our family’s Christmas tree. The tradition. The memories. The emotions the memories bring.  The ornaments that each hold a little story. Ornaments from my childhood and ornaments from way before I was born from my Pop-Pop’s family. The adventure of going to the farm to pick it out. The way it lights up the living room. Filling us with those warm and fuzzy feelings. 

But damn, it can be a bitch to pick out and set up. Raise your hand if any work regarding your annual Christmas tree has started a minor argument or eye rolls or looks of resentment between you and your partner? 

We trekked out to a farm to pick out our Christmas tree on Black Friday. Or I should say, farms. We went to three different farms before we found “the one”. We lamented over size and price. That one was too bushy at the bottom, that one has a huge bare spot at the top, this one is outrageously overpriced, and that one isn’t full enough. 

Once we get home we struggle to get it perfectly in the stand. I hold the tree by the trunk while Ryan lies on his stomach trying to screw the base into place. It’s always crooked on the first try. Teach me your skills if you can perfectly set you tree in the stand on the first try. So then we try again and one of the washers gets dropped into the bottom of the base. Out comes the whole tree and we start over from scratch Then we get it “pretty good” but then argue over an inch or two to the left or to the back. Then we have to twist it so the prettiest angle is facing out front. By that point it’s crooked all over again. 

Then comes the lights. We work swiftly as a team only to realize that we started with the light cord “plug in” at the top rather than the bottom and have to start over again. I try to drape the lights perfectly over the branches rather than rush it. We’re eye rolling at each other’s “methods” and are both ready to scream, “Just let me do it!”

But then it is done. The tree is perfectly straight. The lights are draped evenly. We plug it in and step back to look at our masterpiece. Standing arm and arm we take a sigh as we let the beauty of the tree wrap us in farm and fuzzy feelings. That night we enjoy our usual TV consumption while under the glow and scent of the Christmas tree. It’s heavenly. 

We snuggle up in bed, happy with ourselves and our holiday spirit. Then comes 6:30 a.m. and I’m woken by a loud crash. Thinking Ryan broke a breakfast plate I yell downstairs asking if he’s okay. When I get no reply, I realize he has already left the house. Panicked, I rush down the stairs and find our perfect Christmas tree lying on the ground. Countless irreplaceable and antique ornaments shattered and water everywhere.

I cry. And then start picking up the mess. I call Ryan and he turns around and comes back home and helps me. We’re both agitated, frustrated, and sad. In total it takes two hours to clean up the mess, to un-decorate the rest of the tree, and find a way to make it stand upright again. 

I’m heartbroken over the ornaments lost. They are memories of my childhood, of traditions, and family members. They are only things. But they still hurt. My Christmas spirit was low for a bit. I went out and purchased a new stand. We spent another night assembling the tree in the new stand but left it undecorated for a few days. I simply didn’t have the heart. The tree was a monster, glaring at me from the corner. Taunting me and I just didn’t want to deal with it. 

Then on Sunday, we turned up the Christmas tunes and redecorated the tree. And all is well, Christmas spirit is restored. And it got me thinking and reflecting  (like this season is meant to do): the Christmas Tree is a lot like a marriage. 

These holiday traditions, the ups and downs, are what brings us together. We put up with each other’s quirks and work as a team to make something that will never be “perfect” as good as we can for us. Our marriage, like a live tree, will never be perfect. It is wild, untamed, in need of trimming, and pruning. In need of love and care and affection. Through the yeas we accumulate memories and traditions and adorn our marriage with them. Sometimes we fall and sometimes we break and sometimes we have a little trouble standing upright. Our hearts become shattered. But we overcome and we move forward. Through tears we pick ourselves up and keep pushing. Together.

Although the tree felt like an annoyance this year, we knew that it was in our best interest to set aside our hurt and make it into something special again. In that way, the Christmas tree is like our marriage, a symbol of something for the two of us to gather around and appreciate and respect. A ceremonious element of our lives to look forward to. To gaze at together and to bring us the warm feelings only the two of us comprehend.. It represents our imperfect love, that Christmas tree. And most importantly it brings us hope, much like marriage vows. 

And also, as this sentimental metaphor proves, full of a lot of SAP! 

But when else at Christmas time is it appropriate to be overly sentimental?

 

 

 

  • I’m sorry so many of your ornaments were broken. Even if it’s just things, those have memories associated with them, and that can’t be replaced.

    But all the problems with the tree? That’s why we stick to fake ones. 🙂

    • kwalshmac

      Yes, it was sad…but people have been so kind. I’ve been gifted quite a few new ornaments. And I totally understand the appeal of fake trees!

  • What a beautiful analogy. You have a gift with words, my friend.

    • kwalshmac

      Thank you! When else can I be overly sappy??

  • I love finding that perfect real tree. I can totally relate to all the things you mentioned. Funny enough, usually a tree we pass on becomes the tree we buy after analyzing every tree in the lot. I am a self-proclaimed Christmas junkie, so I definitely understand the sentiment behind everything.

    • kwalshmac

      Finding the perfect tree is so hard, and I think we all have a different idea of what makes a tree “perfect”. Just like how we view relationships, hence why I couldn’t help making this sappy metaphor. So far the tree has been standing up in the new stand, fingers crossed!

  • Tahleen

    So… we had a LOT of tree issues the first year we were married, and it was awful. (Our tree was too big for the base, it wouldn’t stand up, and we ended up lashing it to the wall with hooks and rope.) After that awful experience, we bought this tree stand and it was so much better. http://www.target.com/p/swivel-straight-tree-stand-green/-/A-14715677?lnk=Rec|pdp|viewed_viewed|pdpv1

    • kwalshmac

      Ah sorry to hear you’ve had tree problems too! They can be such a pain, but in the end it’s worth it, right?! Thanks for the recommendations, I went out last Thursday and bought a highly reviewed steel one from Lowes and so far it’s working perfectly!

  • I’m so sorry to hear about your ornaments! Back at my parents home we have problems with the cats climbing the tree so they actually had to tie it down to keep it from falling! I love your analogy and how you still find positive in the craziness. My Christmas spirit would be sad too, thank god for cheery Christmas tunes!

    • kwalshmac

      Thanks, friend! And yes, cats can be tree terrors! My Christmas spirit is making a comeback, the tree is standing, the lights are twinkling and new memories are being made. Hope you are doing well!

  • Tahleen

    Good! Our troubles are apparently not over haha. We forgot to put towels underneath the stand and our wood floors got wet and swelled a bit. Hoping they go back to normal when they dry out!

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