Behind the Branches
This year's Christmas tree is definitely the tallest as well as the most beautiful tree I think Kim and I have ever had in our 42 Christmases together.
It is my favorite species, a Caanan fir, and over 10 feet tall. I absolutely love it!
We were a weekend late to the Christmas-tree-picking-party.
(I can't get over how early people decorate for Christmas these days...if a girl waits for December, she's already way behind. Back in the day when I was little, we'd go get our tree from the local grocery store lot just a few days before Christmas, not a few weeks before. But enough of my old-lady reminiscing...)
Our favorite local tree farm was SOLD OUT on December 4. Completely SOLD OUT! So we went to our second-favorite local tree farm (that is definitely one improvement over the old days...being able to pick out your own fresh tree...there were no local tree farms when I was a little girl) and told them what we were looking for: a 7-8' Caanan fir.
We were told they were almost sold out of Caanans...they had a few 5-footers left and pointed us in that direction. As we turned to leave, as an afterthought, the owner said, "Oh yeah...we do have a few really tall ones out by the road. If you see one you like, we'll cut the top 8' off it for you and just charge you for the 8 feet" (at $12 per foot, definitely a consideration). We got the feeling that they were wanting to clear out the patch of unsellable, too-tall trees.
Truly, most of them were beautiful and would have worked. But I kept going back to this one, walking around it looking for flaws.
I could find none. Nice single-branch top, a straight trunk, no obvious bare spaces with the bonus of a few pinecones near the top, branches beautifully spaced and balanced. One reason I love Caanans is I like a tree you can kinda see through, with spaces between the branches. It was tall and skinny, so it doesn't take up the whole room.
Kim agreed and, before I had the chance to say it, told me, "Let's just take the whole thing!"
I was giddy with delight! I've always wanted a big tall tree. and this one was...dare I say it?...
We took it home, set it in the stand, and stood it up in the middle of the cabin. Tall, sturdy, straight as a rail, well-balanced.
Finally, at 64 years old, I had my PERFECT Christmas tree!
The only downside of a real Christmas tree is having to water it daily. Each morning I got down on my belly and reached my arms under/through the branches to pour water into the tree stand so my perfect tree would stay perfectly hydrated.
The second morning after we got the perfect tree, I noticed an itchy patch on my right wrist that suspiciously looked like poison ivy. But no, it couldn't be...probably just some dry irritated skin. By the end of the day, I had a few more small blistery spots up that same arm and some on my other hand. By the third day there were several patches of what was unmistakably poison ivy.
How in the world does a 64-year-old stay-inside grandma get poison ivy in December??? It's not like I'd been out pulling weeds (uh...no...not ANY time of year...) or roaming through the woods. The only thing I could come up with was it had to have come from the Christmas tree. Kim didn't have any, so it must have happened when I was doing my daily watering.
Oh...so...I guess those what-I-thought-were-dead vines I was pulling away from the trunk to water the tree weren't just any old vines. Apparently they are poison ivy vines.
What???!!! Turns out my PERFECT tree was not quite as perfect as I thought.
Oh, I still adore my tree! It's gorgeous and makes me smile every time I see it. But now I look at it a little differently.
My "perfect" Christmas tree has taught me an invaluable life lesson.
Things are not always as they seem.
Perfection is unattainable. Only Christ is perfect...the rest of us are all flawed. Some flaws are obvious, but many of our flaws are hidden to the world. When you see someone or some situation that looks so perfect on the outside, just be aware that looks are deceiving.
Don't be deceived into thinking that other people/jobs/lives/situations/statuses are perfect because they aren't. Ever.
Beyond that perfection the world sees, there is inevitably some poison ivy lurking...
...behind the branches.