My wedding band was so new and sparkly it gave the star of Bethlehem hanging over the church nativity competition. I was a brand new bride filled with the excitement and expectations of my flawless, perfect first Christmas. I had planned meticulously the gifts, baking, cards and wrapping and was patiently waiting on one key element to round it all out, the Christmas Tree.
As a special wedding gift my Uncle Ed had sent word that he would be sending along a fresh cut real Vermont Christmas Tree for our first Christmas. I was thrilled; I was absolutely giddy, it would be perfect. Vermont the home of luscious, green, flawless shaped trees! I had watched for year’s, as trucks ship those beauties in from Vermont on eighteen wheeler flatbeds, I knew the tree would be the best ever.
The days began to skate by, the cards were addressed, the garlands were hung, my gifts were wrapped and stacked but still the tree had not arrived! Finally a week before Christmas, Joe called to announce the tree had arrived. My commute home that night was one of the longest I had ever had, clearly didn’t people understand I had a perfect Vermont Christmas Tree to decorate! I busted through the vestibule of our apartment and found a two foot by two foot by five foot high box, holding my tree ready to be dressed to the nines, leaning against my door. I thought, ‘my that is a short tree’ but shrugged my shoulders and busted through the door. I yelled to Joe as I struggled with the box through the door, “It’s here, it’s here!” Still in my coat, hat and gloves I began to rip at the box to open it. Joe in his ever so calming way returned to the kitchen with a utility knife and gently and slowly (probably purposely) cut down the sides of the box. The box sides fell away and so did my smile. The perfect Vermont Christmas tree, was far from the “Night Before Christmas, tree” I was staring at a 4’6” version of the “Charlie Brown Christmas” tree. I looked at horror at Joe and asked, ”this is a joke right?! You have the real deal hidden in our bedroom..” and I started to laugh as I walked into the bedroom.
There wasn’t a tree hidden, the 4’6” tree in our kitchen was it. During its trip from Vermont our tree had lost a majority of its needles and because it was a true Vermont Christmas Tree, that I’m sure my uncle and his kids hiked out into the woods to cut down ……. it was scraggly, total having maybe 8 branches. I sighed heavily…. I looked at Joe who clearly was stifling a laugh and started to cry. This could not possibly be my first perfect Christmas tree! I began to gather my keys and told Joe “Ace Hardware still has a few trees out we can still get one, come on!”
I was at the door when Joe stopped me. His hand was on my shoulder the stifled laughter gone, a smile on his face and he said “Did you really look at the tree? Let’s give it a chance maybe it’ll surprise you.” I resisted but reluctantly agreed. I dragged out the box of ornaments, lights and garlands while Joe set the tree into the corner of our living room. As we finished stringing the lights, we began to distribute the ornaments. We were blessed to have such a variety of ornaments, being a ‘Christmas Bride’ for my shower guests were asked to bring an ornament for our first Christmas tree. While the branches were sparse, the ornaments didn’t get lost. I could see and enjoy each one. I began to imagine also my Uncle Ed, Aunt Ceile, and my cousins hiking out into their woods searching out the perfect gift together as a family, and I smiled. Joe and I stepped back to admire this little beauty. “Not bad, eh?” Joe asked, smiling broadly. “Actually, it’s perfect. Thank you” Joe tilted his head and replied “thank you?” ….yes, thank you ….. Joe has always been a little wiser than his years.
My young husband had reigned me in, slowed me down and gingerly attempted to share a little lesson with me, as he would have to for years to come. Christmas isn’t about the perfect decorations, baking, cards or presents. Its about spending time together, laughing, loving and appreciating each other. I still need to be reigned in. Honestly, it’s happening right now at the Davenport household. My loving husband and beautiful children, love to get my goat with tacky Christmas decorations. While I work to created a Currier and Ives Christmas Card house, my family works against me whipping up a house right out of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation! It has now spread to family and friends getting in on the ‘fun.' My cousin Michael and his family have ‘donated’ a 5’ sock monkey to the cause, while my dear friend Elven has threatened to drop off a glittery Santa Clause.
These of course, in their opinion are the perfect complement to Harriet the Hippo and the 1950’s glowing Santa that currently grace my front porch. My deal last night was ‘OK, one day …..you can ruin my Hallmark Christmas Card picture perfect decorations for one day…..' Although today while I write this letter, I’m wondering if maybe I’ll just let them at it this year. They laughed and giggled as we walked through Sears last night, where they found a flying pig and a snoopy mailbox complete with tacky lights and wildly obnoxious colors.
It’s been a difficult time for our nation these last few days, here in Connecticut we have been hit especially hard. As a mom to two beautiful children, a wife of a first responder and sister & daughter to teachers, a little extra laughter is needed and surely will help keep life in perspective. I think I’ll keep up the ‘fight’ for my classic decorations….I honestly believe my family likes seeing my rolling eyes and stomping feet. In the end I’ll be the winner though. I’ll enjoy seeing Joey trying to be sneaky in his now 6’ frame as he sets up Santa, I’ll smile as Ashley tries to make the Sock Monkey wave and I’ll laugh a little myself as Joe works to rewire the hippo Izzy, our Rottweiler tried to eat last year. Merry Christmas...