My Christmas Tree Had Three Tops . . .


And Other Reminders That You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Pretty

Dear Reader:

I finally took down my Christmas tree this week. When all the lights and ornaments and glittery, colored balls were packed into their storage boxes once again, I stepped back and looked at the tree in order to appreciate its simplicity, its dark green needles, its long branches . . . its three tops.

Now, how did I end up with such a nonconformist evergreen? In the spirit of localism and community support, I took my family to a tree farm here in town. The local fire department had advertised a fundraiser, the price was more than reasonable, and I liked the idea of getting a fresh-cut tree grown right here in my neck of the woods rather than picking up a perfect specimen at a big box lot. We arrived on an overcast afternoon, greeted one of the teenagers we knew who had been conscripted to help with the project, and proceeded to look for our tree. They were all rather tall, so it was hard to see the tops, but this one had a nice shape. We took it home. That’s when I realized the triple-top situation.

I grew up with trees cut from the woods, trees shaped by nature rather than pruning shears. This tree brought back all those wonderful memories. I remember my sister and I following Dad through the snow down and up the steep hill along the sand pit toward the quarry, smelling the scent of chainsaw fuel and balsam as he cut the tree he’d scouted during deer hunting season, and trying to hold up the my end of the tree as we carried it home. I remember getting out the big, bulbous, multicolored lights and the familiar ornaments, stringing popcorn (and eating more than actually stringing), and how my mother placed silver tinsel on every tip of every branch one at a time so they hung perfectly aligned.

Some years, the tree was a beauty. Some years, not so much. Once we had a pine tree instead of a fir. As a kid, I found them all magical. Beautiful. They didn’t have to be perfect, and this year’s tree did not have to be perfect to be pretty, either.

My three-topped tree had long, graceful branches from which my ornaments hung in all their glittery glory. It had a pretty shape . . . not too fat, not too skinny, curving in all the right places. The needles were dark green, nice with the little white lights my family likes. I loved looking at that tree this Christmas. It brightened my house for three weeks. Now it is outside next to my front porch steps, lending its pleasing green-ness to a wintery white landscape.

Looking at it sans accessories, I was reminded that we don’t have to be perfect in order to be pretty. Each of us has our own unique beauty, shape, coloring. Yes, we can dress ourselves up with baubles and bows, but underneath is what counts. It is all too easy to compare ourselves to the fashionable beauty plastered all over the television, movie screens, magazines, and the mall stores. Instead of feeling downhearted when we can’t live up to society’s current notion of beauty, I suggest we strive for health and fitness, finding our own sense of style, and looking at ourselves and others for the beauty within.

What are your goals for this new year? I am still working on mine, but I hope to share them next Friday . . . Outside the Box.

Happy 2011, Dear Readers.

6 responses to “My Christmas Tree Had Three Tops . . .

  1. So what did you put on your three tree tops? A star, an angel, and a homemade hat?

    And does anybody else hate tinsel after being driven crazy as a child with how *perfect* it had to be? I remember it being a constant battle that lasted as long as the tree was up. Maybe that was just my house.

  2. I trimmed two of the tops down a little and stuck an angel on the uppermost one. I wish I’d thought of your idea. That would have been even better! I am very fond of that tree. I love that it isn’t perfect. I like seeing it outside my front door, and I’m wondering how long I can keep it there without looking too tacky.

    We didn’t battle over the tinsel. I think my mother enjoyed putting it on there just so. I DO remember having the stuff stick to me with static electricity. Sorry if it brought back painful memories, Julie:)

  3. We also headed into the woods this year for a tree. And it brought back some great memories of tramping through the woods with my Dad looking for just the right one. And yeah, it wasn’t always pretty but there was something so Christmasy about the fresh scent and the effort it took to find, cut down and bring back. It reminded me this year how complacent we have begun with the ease we get things these days.

    • Exactly, Mary Ann. We need to get back to those old traditions. Some years the snow was really deep, especially since I was really short! But those are the moments when memories are made. Happy New Year, my friend!

  4. We’ve made it a tradition to get the not-so-perfect tree for years. Last year we almost caved to a well-manicured tree but it just did not happen. We’ve been getting our tree from the same tree farm as you went to for a number of years. Only due to the busy schedule that we had this year on two of us went to retrieve it. That would be Gilie and myself. As we were at the farm, in the middle of the week, another mother of 2 showed up to slay their tree. Unbeknownst to her no one was there to help with the trees in the middle of the week. We lent her our saw. We both got our trees just fine. Gilie and her Girl Scout knot tying experience allowed us to safely drive the tree home on the top of the car without an incident.
    We erected the tree in its stand and position in the living room. For the rest of the family to admire when they arrived home. It was not a full family experience as we are use to but I was fun for the two of us to accomplish. It was the first tree we looked at and I think it was the best one we had.

    • Hooray for you and Gilie getting the tree home, and I’m glad Girl Scout experience helped. Actually, that reminds me. If Gil wants to bake me a couple dozen chocolate chip cookies, I’ll “donate” 25 bucks toward her horse lessons. I’m still burned up about the Girl Scout Cookie fund- raising scam!

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