A happy accident
We trimmed the Christmas tree this weekend. Patrick and I fluffed the branches of our synthetic stock, both of us trying to disguise the pole running through the middle. We spread and gently bent branches then stood back to survey our work. Our forearms had angry scratches from the needles, but we made a good team and successfully fluffed our tree in preparation of more lights and sentimental tree jewelry.
Patrick and I added 300 lights to the blazing branches. One can never have too many lights on the tree, or too many handprint angels or cardboard wreaths circling school pictures. So we dizzied ourselves wrapping our skinny pine with white lights.
“We should plug these in so we can see where we’re putting them,” I said to Patrick.
“I started from the top, so we’ll plug them in when we finish. Don’t worry, I tested them first. They work.”
Of course, they didn’t work.
Round and round we went, unwinding our efforts and patience with the dead strand. I headed straight to the trash can and threw the tangled mess away with gusto. Take that, stupid lights!
I stood in the garage with my hands on my hips heaving more from my frustration than my exertion.
“What are we going to do? We need more white lights!”
Patrick polished off his egg nog and shook his head. “I dunno. Just leave it?”
Unsatisfied I began rooting through the box marked, “outside lights” and pulled out an unopened box of lights. I held them up for Patrick’s scrutiny and he raised his eyebrows in surprise. “Colored lights? You want to mix them?”
I’ve had my tree “just so” for years. And my perfect yuletide recipe called for white lights. Lots of them. It was the grown up choice. I had colored lights on my tree as a child so choosing white lights for MY tree was a choice that afforded me the gentle rebellion I craved. Adding colored lights was so far off the Christmas radar that no one even dared offer it as a suggestion.
I gripped the box as though it’d jump out of my hand and I nodded with conviction, kissed Patrick on his stunned face and walked straight for our tree.
We started from the bottom this time, lights plugged in and we wound and tucked, wound and tucked until the lights became a blur of colored happiness. Dizzy happiness. Dippiness.
After the boys hung the ornaments in uneven groups, close to the bottom and sometimes three to a branch, we stood back as a family and surveyed our masterpiece.
Our 10-foot, pre-lit beauty leans slightly to the right in the corner of our living room. It’s the love child sapling of the Grinch’s tree and the Tower of Pisa. But it shines! Oh does it shine!
Our tree is beautiful. It is imperfect and heavy with family ornaments, each with a unique story. The variation of my “perfect yuletide recipe” yielded a treasure I could have only found once I let go of my silly idea of how things should be and simply accepted them the way they ARE.
For that, I’m thankful.