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O Christmas Tree, Ugly Christmas Tree

It’s the holiday season and my Facebook news feed is all cluttered up with pictures of beautiful Christmas trees.  Color coordinated beauties with each ornament placed with loving care stand guard over piles and piles of impeccably wrapped gifts with ribbons and bows.  It’s beautiful, it really is.  It’s just not how I roll at Christmas.

My Christmas tree is a hot mess.  I have wrinkled paper ornaments and faded construction paper chains.  I have Boba Fett hunting Opus just above the Lion King.  The lights on the bottom half blink and the lights on the top don’t.  The bottom third of the tree is nearly bare, thanks to thieving cats who love shiny things.  Speaking of cats, they’ve also stomped all over all of our presents, ripping paper and smushing boxes, because the water in the tree stand tastes ever so much better than the water in their bowl.  Oh yes, you heard that correctly…we have not yet passed into the world of artificial, perfectly pre-lit trees.  We still go to Lowes three weeks before Christmas searching for the least ugly tree that will just barely fit into our house, and I have the sap on my ceiling and pine needles on the floor to prove it.  It’s far from magazine perfect, but I adore our ugly Christmas tree and I still gaze upon it with wonder.

The night the Christmas tree goes up may be my favorite night of the year.  The family gathers around the giant tote of ornaments with an excitement that makes me wish I had syringes of Valium at the ready.  Tradition dictates that the kids stay out of the way while Mom and Dad put the lights on the tree, then it’s on.  Special ornaments are first, and this is the best part.  With the exception of very fragile ornaments (and we don’t have many of those), the kids are in charge of ornaments.  Every ornament comes out of its original box and gets hung willy nilly on the tree while we tell the story of its origin.  Okay, so it’s not really a story.  But it’s still cool to say, “your granny gave me this when Dad and I were dating,” or “my kindergarten teacher gave me this one and YOUR kindergarten teacher gave you that one.”  After the special ornaments, I will inevitably find the garland that was supposed to go on FIRST.  So after we thread that around the irreplaceables, then I make unreasonable demands that EVERY ornament will go on the tree.  This has questionable results, since these ornaments are plain colored balls that have no story and are really kind of boring.  This is also the signal to the cats that their newest plaything is ready to go.  We do skip the tinsel, since it’s not nearly as pretty when you’re scooping it out of a litter box, so at this point, all we need are the presents to complete our tree

The result is a Christmas tree that’s cluttered, mismatched and, overall, kind of wonky.  Just like our family.  It tells our story and that makes it beautiful to us.  It’s not Facebook feed worthy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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