O: Outings and A: Activities
I grew up with fake, my husband with real. Thus the ongoing family conversations about what’s better and why. For the record in this household, real wins out. And yes, as you might have guessed since it’s December, I’m talking about O Christmas Tree and her lovely branches.
It was the much anticipated day when Tannenbaum was to be chosen. But first, the kids had enough of their decorating wits about them to insist that the Halloween bats and scarecrows must come down. With the living room prepped and ready, we set out to select the tree from the Richfield Farmer’s Market. The grandparents have been with on this occasion before. Although they have always enjoyed it, they are never really able to lend any direction to tree selection (although Dad likes to endlessly speculate on the height of each tree – and he’s pretty accurate). They were and always will be, fake tree owners.
I’ll admit I switched over to camp real after a few holidays with my husband. Growing up, I remember sorting the branches by letter and inserting them into the tree accordingly. And while the end result produces similar results the process differs. Possibly the important part.
To this day, I don’t quite yet have the most critical eye for picking out the best tree in the lot. I leave that up to the husband. The kids run around the tree lot. We discuss different branches and tree-types, always coming back to the tried and true Frasier Fir. To make matters more challenging, some trees have been on the truck or in storage for days. Their branches are all folded in like a collapsed umbrella. One year, we ended up with a tree growing out of the side of a tree we purchased. A bit odd, but we still loved it.
Upon agreeing on the final selection, the base is cut off and its netted for the short journey home. Ava loves this tree already. I think she really wants a pet. Or at least to show me how much she can love something that we pick up, pay for and bring home to care for as our own.
Turns out – it’s a beautiful tree when the branches are all settled. No one is jumping at the task of daily maintenance, however. “I am not your Tree Waterer,” Ava defiantly states. Luckily, it’s just an act. She’s watered it everyday since we got it home without complaints. A right of passage I tell her. And just like that, after 9 years, I’m no longer the waterer. But I’m still the light stringer.
No matter how carefully I put away the lights last year and pre-tested days ago for this season, by the time I’m ready to put the lights on, at least one strand doesn’t work. I consider doing only popcorn strings and cranberries, but way too real for this city girl. I make due with what we have, promising to fill in any missing spots with more lights later on. Decorating must not be delayed.
I don’t take decorating lightly. There must be Christmas music, a real fire in the fireplace and hot chocolate with marshmallows. By day two of Tannebaum’s stay, the antsy children override my wishes and they begin without the circumstance I envisioned. I’ve got an ornament for every occasion. In recent years, we’ve upped our game with personalized ornaments for every family / friend combination possible. The kids even recently presented uncle Pauly and his girlfriend with two bashful blushing reindeer swooning over each other. Really, consider it for everyone on your list. It’s like Hallmark with a card for every occasion.
We play I-Spy when the ornaments are all up, quizzing each other on where stuff came from and if the kids were alive when the ornament first landed on the tree. A few nights later, we actually have a fire and enjoy the realness of that and the tree. The relaxation of the evergreen, joy the kids have had throughout this process and smell of a real fire just reaffirm which camp I’m in. For real.