We haven’t always had the perfect tree. At least you might not think so. Our trees have been short, fat, prickly, and once even sprayed with cat pee.
Maybe more than once, actually, it’s hard to remember. Especially once the tree hits the water and decorations are hung. Imperfections are hard to recall when lights touch the branches. Yes, even the stench of cat pee.
There’ve been trees cut down from my parents’ pasture to the south, likely during the years when money was tight. Some trees even fell down with the weight of the ornaments or because a pesky cat crawled up its trunk.
As I grew and became an adult, the real tree tradition carried on, even when my fake tree husband disagreed. He loves me like that. Our first tree as a married couple was cut down on a hot day in Houston, Texas. That was the first and only time in my 34 years that we broke a sweat while finding the perfect tree. He was really hot that day (and not just in physical appearance) as the tree owner handed him a saw and said, “Go cut your own.”
I told you he loves me.
We’ve found trees in parking lots and greenhouses, sometimes they are delivered to our home and sometimes we strap them to the top of whatever vehicle we own at the time; the back seat of our car, the top of an SUV – each year we find a way to get a real tree into our home.
We’ve spent countless hours cleaning up its fallen needles and pouring water at its trunk. That husband of mine spends minutes on his knees each year, while I ever so kindly direct the angle at which the tree should be placed.
“A little to the left,” I’ll say. “Now it’s tilted. It must go south. Twist it a bit right,” I’ll add.
This year, our tree was particularly crooked and, if you can imagine, it took a while to get perfect. When I say “a while,” I really mean hours. We started, gave up, filled the tree with lights and then decided it was leaning terribly. The husband then got back down on the floor, untwisted it from the tree stand, sawed off a few more inches and placed it back into its stand.
Several hours later, our tree was perfect. But then, it was perfect before we placed it in our home, too. That’s the thing about real trees. Every tree, even one with imperfections, holds something special.
I’ve been told by fake tree lovers that real trees are, “Too much work and dirty.” I can see that. I can smell that too. You know, cat pee and all. But there’s something about a real tree that’s hard to explain to those who haven’t experienced its magic.
Yes, a real tree can be a lot of work. There’s cleaning and watering and the occasional mishap with a cat.
Yes, a real tree isn’t perfect. Its branches go awry and sometimes it dries up before its trunk is even placed in water.
But I think a real tree might shine brighter than the rest. They do in my home, anyway. And when it’s placed next to a 5-year-old girl, a 7-year-old girl and a hot 33-year-old husband, its branches and lights and ornaments filled with memories shine brighter than any year before.
May your holiday season be filled with love, laughter, beauty and a cat pee free Christmas tree.