Sunday, December 6, 2015

O' Christmas Tree


Once we got over the Thanksgiving hurdle we were up against the Christmas one. Being the overachiever/overthinker that I am, I was already mentally trying to dress our tree. What was I going to do without any of my things here and not spend a fortune buying ornaments and other stuff that I won't want next year when I have all my belongings with me? Obviously, I wasn't going to ask Charlie to bring decorations with him if I didn't even have the guts to ask him to bring linens for Thanksgiving. No sireee. We have close to a dozen of those big, lidded Rubbermaid totes of d├ęcor anyway, and frankly I can't remember what things are in what ones. I packed that stuff up 11 months ago and out of sight, out of mind. Aside from him getting cranky over dragging it halfway across the country, I wouldn't even know what to ask him to bring or tell him where to find it.

Being me, I had long scouted out the 2 Goodwill stores here in Franklin and remembered seeing boxes and boxes of plain gold balls at the one. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving I stopped in to see if they still had them. They did! A cool $10.00 bought us 75 gold ornaments and 8 white ones with pretty hand painted forest foraged mushrooms on them. Perfectly suited to my vision.
I knew I would have to bite the bullet and buy lights, but after last year's light debacle I am now from the school of thought that there is no such thing as too many lights. We also grabbed a cheap, plastic tree stand and $5.00 worth of mini red bows while we were at it. I had already decided to use the red and black buffalo check throw I used on the Thanksgiving table as a tree skirt to make up for the added cost of new lights and red bows.  Besides, I always use mini red bows on the tree and these new ones can replace the ones that are looking shabby next year.  Things were shaping up.

they stopped slapping and hitting each other for a brief moment for this photo. a Christmas miracle.

When Charlie left on Monday morning he reminded me to be sensible and not buy the tallest, fattest tree I could find like I always do. He reminded me that I needed to transport it on my company car, a Prius which to Christmas tree transporting, is the equivalent of having a Smart Car. Since I am not an unreasonable woman, I decided that I would just buy our tree at the nearest tree lot which just happened to be up the road in a Walgreen's parking lot.
Less distance to travel = bigger tree.
Tree lot in Walgreen's parking lot = most expensive Christmas tree I have ever purchased.
Can we just talk about this for a minute?
While everything in NJ is more expensive than in Tennessee, the same is not true for Christmas trees. For the past decade we have driven out to the same tree farm where we meander for as long as it takes to find the perfect one, Charlie gets to lie down in the dirt, mud and or snow and cut it down himself, we get to pull it back to the car where we pay for it and get to sip on free warm cider while the men who work there tie it to our car for us. The whole memorable experience costs us $50.00 and it is one of our favorite parts of the holiday season.
This year, I drove up to the corner, pulled into the Walgreen's parking lot, wandered around (a very good smelling) tree lot, listened to my children argue about which tree to pick, trip and push each other in the dark, finally agree (although some of them begrudgingly) upon a tree then I got to fork over $97.00 including tax for it. $97.00!!!!
Thank God my ornaments and bows only cost $15.00....

To my surprise, it fit nicely on top of the Prius. The guys from the tree lot actually said I could have picked out a bigger one. I agreed. Although when we got it into the apartment I realized how small this place really is so I guess it's good I was conservative with my choice. Ahem. I may have had to manipulate the furnishings a bit to accommodate it which, thankfully, is tall and full but still not worth $97.00. We all have to turn sideways to shimmy past it (carefully!) into the dining room but it's only for a month so who cares?
 In true Eleanor form, I ran out of lights halfway up the tree again and had to run out for more. After I got home and finished putting them all on, I realized that my Goodwill ornaments had no hooks.
Not a one.
So the next day I was back at Target to get the hooks and successfully finished decorating.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again:
It wouldn't be Christmas if it all went off without a hitch.

Ryan brought the ornaments I ordered this year for the two of them. For the past 15 years I have ordered each child a personalized Christmas ornament from Lenox. I did it so that someday when they are on their own they will already have their own collection of ornaments. I remember when I had my very first tree having to go out and buy generic boxes of ornaments that held no meaning to me at all and I wanted to be able to provide each of them with a first tree that would be full of warm memories. Since this year's ornaments arrived in October they were right at hand and easy to throw into her suitcase. I also picked her up a cute little bottle brush elf at Anthropologie when I was buying the Thanksgiving napkins. Other than that, the tree is just decorated with my Goodwill balls and bows. Oh, and I can't forget my little splurge...

which are the gold dipped pheasant feather picks I spotted at Pottery Barn. I love them stuffed randomly around the tree for some added depth and dimension. I'm a sucker for all things game bird related and besides, I got them on clearance AND with a coupon (but I still needed a dozen of them and obviously the need to justify my purchase to y'all). I would buy a dozen more if it wouldn't be overkill because I love them so much. They're my favorite part.
Or maybe not. Maybe my favorite part was when Ryan and I were curled up on the couch together admiring all my handy work when she asked if I thought this was the prettiest tree I had ever decorated because she thought that maybe it really was.
I was quiet as I thought about it for a moment or two and when I went to respond to her I still stumbled for a definitive answer. It is a pretty tree. But everything is so new, foreign and different from the way we have always done things. But it is an adventure. Our adventure.
And that might be my very favorite part of all.