When I envision getting a Christmas tree, I think about the time we cut down our own at my Grandpa’s cabin in Michigan, snow covering the ground, dragging the gorgeous tree back home and warming up by the cozy fire with hot chocolate as we decorated the boughs. Here in Louisiana, tree getting usually involves a trip to Lowe’s in seventy degree weather, not quite as magical, but still fun. This year we leaned to the extreme opposite of my Michigan dreams and decided on a fake tree from Dirt Cheap since we’ll be out of town for Christmas. The result? Not-so-picture-perfect.
You do this, right?
You envision the perfectly magical moment in your head, you stage it with all the right sounds, scents, and sights. I know it’s not just me. I love creating magical moments for my family, but sometimes (a lot of times?) things go completely off the rails and yet end up still being special. I’m learning in motherhood that while it can sometimes be fun to put a lot of effort into curating our lives to make things beautiful, many times I need to let go of the pressure and remember that our kids are delighted by simplicity.
Our Christmas tree outing this year went like this:
I had a terrible stomach ache all afternoon but was determined to go on with our plans. As we were about to load up, we realized that my car battery was completely dead so we lugged carseats into my husband’s truck instead. On the way our two littlest ones fell asleep, so there went the family component of the outing, then while I waited in the car, baby girl had a diaper blow out and I didn’t have any extra clothes for her. Oh and did I mention that for the first time in my entire life, we were getting a fake tree? Now look, there’s nothing wrong with fake trees, it’s just that when you grow up with a real tree, that’s what you expect to have. In addition to this detail, I grew up with white lights on our tree and my husband grew up with colorful lights on their (fake) tree, so since we’ve always done the tree lights to my preference, he sneakily took this opportunity to get a tree decked out in colorful lights.
The cherry on top was someone bringing over a life size Santa, that, let’s just say, isn’t quite to my taste.
But here’s the thing:
This not-so-picture-perfect Christmas tree brings so much joy to our little girls. They took extreme care and precious pride in placing each treasured ornament in its spot, and yes, several had to be sent the “ornament hospital” but that’s to be expected. The picture my husband sent me of our five year old daughter’s eyes lighting up when she first saw the tree in the store, well, I’m sold. Her face says it all: the magic of Christmas is in the delighted eyes of a little child. Things don’t have to be picture perfect to be special. (See: random vacuum, dirty floors, mismatched outfit). Her happy little face in that moment helps me take a deep breath. It helps me choose to release all the pressure and the anxiety to get things just right. Instead of aiming for impossible perfection this Christmas season, I am choosing to receive the peaceful gift of enjoying the simple things that make a little child’s face light up.
And the joy our girls had playing with that life sized Santa for over an hour and then plopping him next to the tree? Well ok, maybe he’ll mysteriously get lost in the attic before next Christmas.