The Damn Tree, Redux

The Damn Tree, Redux


Well, the damn tree is finally up and decorated.  Paul and I put it off for as long as we could, without ever talking about why we were putting it off. Last weekend we just seemed to be busy.  The weekdays are too hectic with work.  And so here we are. A week before Christmas and no tree yet.

This morning, though, as I headed off to buy the last of the gifts and the week’s groceries, and Paul got ready to go to the dump and then to the farm to get our Christmas turkey, we made a verbal agreement to finally set the tree up this afternoon.

So at about 3 0’clock, when every other chore was done,  we finally brought up the tree stand.  We dragged out our old familiar fake spruce, wrapped in old plastic table cloths. We went into the attic for the three boxes of ornaments, laying everything on the living room floor. We moved the couch, slid the recliner over and gave a sigh.

We went to work, thinking that it might take us an hour or so to have everything set up, decorated and all cleaned  up again.


It was a long and interesting three hours.

I may have made one or two tactical errors.  Like pointing out the fact that while Paul had to get on a chair to put the star on the top of the tree, in the past few years giant Matt had simply reached up his gargantuan arm and placed that same star on the topmost branch.

Or my observation that in the past three or four years the boys and I had NO PROBLEM getting the tree to stand up straight in its little green, three legged dish.  NO PROBLEM.

I may have made a couple of comments along those lines.  But it all turned out well.

Because my husband is a saint.

He brought up the tree, the stand, the little white and red skirt.  He got the boxes down from the attic, and dragged them into the living room. He moved the furniture.

He figured out how to get the 8 sets of lights to join together in proper biological order (“Male to female to male to female……).   He didn’t react when I sputtered, griped or complained.

And when the tree suddenly leaned over and tried to collapse, he simply went downstairs, got out the fishing line and carpet hooks and attached our old tree to the window frame. And started to hang up the ornaments.

So….two martinis later, the tree is up and resplendent in all of its tacky glory.  It is lit up with color, and hung on every branch with a little memory of the Shiebler family.

Like the very first ornament that we bought for Kate, not intending it to be a family tradition. It was just cute, and she was obsessed with Big Bird.  And it was very….inexpensive!

And all of the other ornaments that followed.

The kindergarten creations.

The ornaments that reflected special interests or talents, like Tim’s hockey player Santa.

Or the funny shrimp that I got for Matt one year, when we realized that we both loved to cook and eat them.

Or the one that Paul’s sister gave us to commemorate our annual family camping trip in the White Mountains.

Every ornament holds a piece of my heart.  Every one makes me smile, and every one gives my heart a little tug.  Our tree is a history of our family life.  It is a lopsided timeline of our years together, reminding us of our adventures, our experiences, our growth as individuals and as a unit.

As I sit here in my living room, looking at the sparkling lights and the mismatched and whimsical decorations, I am content.  Our crazy quilt of a Christmas tree is proof, to me, that we have had a happy family life.  It’s filled with broken legged deer, sledding Santa’s, Starbucks cups and tiny leather hiking boots.  It’s filled with years of laughter and shared memories.

The tree is up.  The damn tree.  It still looks pretty good to me.

4 thoughts on “The Damn Tree, Redux

  1. Our tree decorations are similar to yours, representatives of sports they’ve participated in, or places we’ve been ones that were made by little and big hands. Tim says gee we have a few ornaments in here that are broken that we never throw out can I throw these out? No they have to go on the tree because one of the kids made it so many years ago and it hasn’t fared well all these years or the construction paper ones that are yellowing and starting to curl or the ones that were my grandmothers that the cat inadvertently knocked off the tree and broke so no we can’t throw them away and maybe the tops are broke so we can’t hang them but we look at them every year in their special place in the box of ornaments and remember those that made, gave etc them:) Martinis and decorating! Love it!


  2. We’ve got the same kind of tree. Though it seems like a chore one by one those little decorations, the sparkle popsicle stick stars, the bottle cap angel, the kayak, etc. all seem to brighten the mood and leave you with a smile. Christmas is magic!


  3. I love your tree! Ours is similar, with all of the ornaments collected over the years, each one reminding me of a special time in our lives or reflecting on when the children made them. Your Christmas pictures are beautiful, and everyone looks so happy. And like the tree, we’re all a little lopsided at times, but when we all come together, what a beautiful creation!


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