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An “Off” Christmas – Ah well



This Christmas never seemed to get off the ground for us,and a perfect example is our tree. Last year our gigantic fake tree, chosen especially for our 25 foot ceilings, disintegrated in the attack over the summer, so when Kent and I went to put it up, we ended up using duct tape and fishing wire to hold up the branches. No problem, we thought, we’ll just toss it at season’s end because there is no way we’ll still be living in this house by next season . . . we’ll pick a tree suitable for where ever we land….but of course, here we are. Ah well.

So this year, we decided to get a real tree to fit our big ole house, and about ten days after Thanksgiving, Mark and the kids went to a tree farm to have one cut. Thus begins the tree ordeal. They pick out a nice tall tree and have it cut, but on the way home the truck breaks down and it lands on the side of the road. A day later, we had the truck, tree and all, towed to the transmission shop. I suggested we go put the tree on my van roof rack to get it home and start our Christmas decorating.

Mark says, “I’m afraid that would be impossible. It would crush your van.”

“Just how big is this real tree?”

“Pretty big.”

And it was, because a week later three burly guys came over with Mark to lug the 16-foot spruce into our living room. It had now gone a week without water, and the base was so big that we couldn’t fit water into the largest tree stand we could find. Ah well. We would just cross our fingers that it would last the few weeks until Christmas.

But, before the poor thing got decorated, it was loosing pine needles and looking the worse for wear. We decorated it with lights and started putting on ornaments, but when we had gotten through only two boxes or so, we decided that was enough…. the darn tree would end up bald from losing pine needles if we stressed it any more. For the first time in 19 years our tree was not picture perfect with ribbon and hundreds of meaningful ornaments collected throughout the years dripping from the branches. Ah well.

When it comes to ornaments, nothing compares to the Hendry’s gluttony. We started collecting ornaments in our early years whenever we traveled or did something meaningful, because back then, a small token was the only thing we could afford to buy for a remembrance. As time wore on, it became tradition. Now,each year as Mark puts up the tree he plays, “Can you remember where we got this one?” with me. And every year we prove once again that I am not the ornament historian in this family.  But every beautiful or sweet or funny ornament has a history and once a year, putting up a tree brings awareness to this ornament map our life adventures, so just the act of putting up a tree becomes a poignant experience. Lovely.

In the end, Christmas isn’t about decorations anyway (It’s about mistletoe and cooking in this gal’s book) and no one seemed to care about what might be missing from the tree, which goes to show that you can fret about things for no reason if you fail to put life into perspective. Our scaled back holiday was right sized in the end…..


(Kent & girlfriend, Brianna, sister-in law Dianne, Denver, Neva, & Jason. Mark must be somewhere with his mother. I was behind the camera) 


Dianne & Ginny


(Denver and boyfriend Jason)

Today, the day after Christmas, we were more than ready to get the dead tree out of the house, but how? Mark decided we would have to cut it down piece by piece and burn it. Ah well. It’s a plan.



So this morning, he and Kent removed the few ornaments and packed up the lights and begin cutting branches. Within moments the house was heating up from a roaring fire that sounded like a forest burning to the ground. For hours they kept feeding the fire as the tree dwindled and a foot high pile of pine needles collected on the ground and began to spread to every corner of our home. You can bet whoever lives in this house will be finding them in corners for eternity….

As Mark was cutting branches he called out to me that he found a bird’s nest in the upper crest of the tree.

“That’s a shame.” I said.

“Why? It’s not like there are any birds in it.”

“Well, obviously. But in the spring I’m imagining a bird will be looking for her summer place and not only will it be gone, but also her entire neighborhood will have been cut down.”

“Ah well,” Mark said.


 When enough branches were removed that the tree could be lifted by Kent and Mark together, they lugged it outside, pine needles scattering every which way from room to room – my mess now so extensive I could only grip my broom tighter and sigh. Did people really do this all the time in the old days? Eeesh. Someone told me that a Christmas tree bag is the way to avoid this entire cleanup, but where do you find one for trees the size of Rockefeller Center!

So this afternoon, I’ve been sweeping, sweeping, sweeping…and mopping, mopping, mopping… and I must say, it feels good to have Christmas over this season…. It just wasn’t our year, and frankly, I’m tired of cleaning up messes and making this house picture perfect in case a buyer stops by (and we have two scheduled to come this week). When life feels
like it is all effort and no pleasure, you know it is time to restructure your approach to living…. and perhaps living large is not all it’s cracked up to be.

So, next year, when I get that Christmas gleam in my eye and start contemplating how to go about creating a really dynamic tree from scratch, somebody out there better remind me to go the pre-lit, easy to put up route – or better yet, a live tree in a big dirt ball – so my tree has meaning in a different way and doesn’t need as much glamour and sparkle to be special.   I’m making my new life motto -KISS.

Keep 

It 

Simple 

Stupid.

It may mean giving up a little in the creativity department….But, Ah the pleasure of simplicity…….. 

Does that mean I’m losing my celebratory edge? Probably.  Ah well.            

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

4 responses »

  1. You will never lose your celebratory edge in my book!! See you Monday.. I have appointments for you from 9:30-4:30 and then lets go out! Merry Christmas!

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  2. Good blog and pictures! I took my X-mas decorations down in 5 minutes yesterday…..and didn’t have to clean up any needles…..I already follow the KISS rule…….

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  3. Every year at this time I remember always being at your house and decorating the house with lights and the tree. One of my favorite memories. Hope you had a great one. Kathy

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  4. Ginny it was great to connect with you after all these years. All of your friends in Connecticut love you and think about you often.

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