Note: I wrote this post a few years ago when the days of having a lovely themed Christmas tree seemed an eternity away for me. This year, for the first time EVER, I have a tree that is all about appearance and not so much about memories. But don’t think for a moment my old “ugly” tree has been retired! Now I’m just fortunate enough to have TWO trees! 🙂
I flip through the pages of my favorite decorating magazines and skim over dozens of pins on Pinterest. The Christmas trees I see there are unreal; glistening pyramids of evergreen perfection.
There are hundreds of branches. Thousands of lights. Beautiful garlands of beads or large swaths of organza ribbon are draped about and dozens of shimmering orbs dangle from boughs.
Everything coordinates. Everything is perfectly sized and spaced and each piece is strategically positioned. It’s like art–a mosaic made up of a thousands tiny parts that fit together to create a flawless masterpiece.
And then I look at our tree. And I sigh. Because our Christmas tree is nothing, NOTHING like that.
Our tree is spindly and ridden with gaps and a few of the lights are out. Our tree is wrapped in a dizzying disorder of wooden-beaded garland and decorated with the most bizarre mix of ornaments you have ever seen in your life.
There’s an array of Hallmark ornaments that have been played with until pieces are missing and parts are broken off. (We still hang them because the kids insist that we do.) There are ornaments created in Sunday school classes and ornaments we’ve made in homeschool. There are ornaments I’ve received as gifts; snowmen and angels and tiny Nativity scenes, and ornaments I’ve picked up at after-Christmas clearance sales, just because. There’s a random smattering of ornaments I can’t even account for–where did this come from?–and eight or 10 red plastic icicles. RED icicles? And candy canes, because the kids want candy canes on our tree.
Our motley collection of ornaments is made up of all sizes and shapes and colors, all placed on our tree in the most haphazard way by four children who are usually tripping over one another to claim the best spots among the branches. Not that it really matters what spot they pick–they’ll all be rearranged a few dozen times before Christmas anyway!
There is nothing thematical or uniform or particularly lovely about our tree. It certainly is nothing like the trees I see on Pinterest or in any of the decorating magazines I like to thumb through.
Our Christmas tree isn’t art. It’s more of a scrapbook of our lives, a collection of imperfect mementos of the moments and people and things closest to our hearts.
- There are the six ceramic ornaments handmade by a mother many years gone; good, sturdy ornaments that 30 years ago adorned another “ugly” tree.
- There’s the baby carriage ornament, a gift after the birth of my first baby, and played with by each child since until it’s now a wheel-less, but sentimentally precious baby basket.
- There are four stars, purchased in hard times, that remind me of God’s ability to turn things around.
- There’s the ornament from the Sunday school student who said thank you and in doing so made me feel like maybe, just maybe, my small efforts could make a big difference.
- There are handmade ornaments, crooked and glue-dotted and sometimes adorned with tiny photographs of those whose awkward little fingers formed them, proud gifts of love to a mom who prizes them still.
They are precious, priceless reminders of what matters most, memories hanging on a tree in the form of random broken trinkets and lopsided crafts. And the more I look at our Christmas tree, the more I realize that what it lacks in elegance, it more than makes up for in warmth and in sweet, nostalgic charm.
My “ugly” Christmas tree tells me I am blessed. Even with all of its imperfections, our tree is PERFECT.