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.