Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Our Christmas tree is one scrappy looking pine. It’s an actual living tree that we bring in from the backyard each year. We’ve had the tree so long we can’t really remember when or where it appeared. The first year it was a tabletop decoration, and then it was put outside and mostly forgotten about. We rewarded its survival by bringing it back inside the next Christmas. At some point, we draped a skirt around it, hung a few lights and formally adopted it as our tree. At first it looked like the picture perfect tree in miniature with full, needle filled branches and a lovely triangle shape. 

As the years went on, kids were born and life got busier. Each year the tree continued to survive in the backyard for 49 neglected weeks, only to be moved back to its’ place of honor at week 50. The branches became less full, gaps appeared and it became more Charlie Brown and less Norman Rockwell. People would come over and not know what to say because the usual “what a nice tree” compliments clearly did not apply. Somewhat embarrassed, we always felt the need to explain why we had THIS tree. In the holiday swirl of perfect gifts and perfect decorations, our lopsided, threadbare tree seemed out of place. 

A few years ago we decided to get a “real” tree, one that had that lovely shape, fresh pine scent and would not require an explanation to the holiday guests. Our announcement to the kids of the new tree plan was greeted with disbelief. “But we have a tree, what are you going to do with OUR tree, you can’t just leave it outside, ITS OUR TREE!”  Once again, Charlie Brown came inside looking less coniferous and more deciduous than the year before.

I’ve come to love this tree as part of the family, like a slightly disheveled, lovable relative that keeps turning up every year. I can look back at pictures of both the kids and the tree over the years and marvel at how they’ve grown. The tree no longer fits on top of a table and little boys no longer need a step ladder to hang the ornaments.

I love that this scrappy tree with its paper pre-school star is a living member of the family. In the frantic pace of the holidays, this tree feels like a solid, stable anchor. I’m glad to be reminded each year that the important things are friends and family and those who’ve been there for you over the years. No doubt there’ll be a day when I’ll be scraggly looking with branches bent.  When that day arrives I can only hope I’ll still be loved and taken in for the holidays. 

Regina Stoops is a comedian, writer and Autism Mom living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Regina Stoops