Blog Advent Tour: Our Tree Tells A Story

Every year we have a hard time deciding when to put up our Christmas tree. We have a real tree so we can't put it up too early but don't want to put it up so late that we hardly get to enjoy it before the big event. We also worry that if we wait too long all the good ones will be gone. We've considered going the fake tree route, even going so far to look at them in the store. Lee ended up rushing me out the store pretty quickly though when it became obvious I was on the edge of tears. Fake trees just aren't me. I like a real tree, messy needles and all. I like them especially for their imperfections. Fake trees are too perfectly shaped for my liking. I like the beauty in the imperfections of real trees. They are never quite perfect, which makes them perfect in their own way.

Our beautifully imperfect tree tells a story -- our story. There are ornaments on there from before we were together. Like the Snow White and Seven Dwarfs ornaments. I have four of these.

I don't remember a Christmas with my family where I didn't put these on the tree. They always went on the bottom branches because we were allowed to touch them and play with them. They weren't breakable. That's probably a good thing as our cat has taken to whacking them when she's bored and feeling troublesome.

I don't know the story of all of Lee's ornaments. I think he just has a few that he's kept over the years. Like The Hulk. Who doesn't want The Hulk on the tree watching over their presents?

Perhaps the most sentimental ornament on the tree, for me, is not one of the prettiest. It was my great-grandmother's ornament and when I opened a box from my mother last year I gasped in shock to find it there. I couldn't believe she had sent it to me.

My mother always put this ornament on the tree and it was always placed near the top where out little hands couldn't reach it. It's yellowed with age. The fact that it survived so long in my family says something of both the durability and the fact that we treated it with care.

Our first year together Lee and I went on a two week vacation in Europe. While we were there we started a tradition that sticks with us. Everywhere we go on vacation we buy something for our tree. We didn't do it everywhere in Europe, just in Venice. (Venice was my shopping city. I also spent a somewhat obscene amount of money on a piece of glass.)

I know some people find the masks creepy but when I see them on the tree I think about getting lost in the Venice streets. I remember the crowds of Carnivale. I remember bad food and cheap wine. I remember Italian drag queens. I think of gondolas, the Bridge of Sighs, San Marco and I remember buying these little masks from a street vendor.

When we went to PEI that same year, so Lee could meet my family, we bought this driftwood Santa.

When I see it I think of the waterfront, the smell of salt air and eating yummy Cow's ice-cream. I think of red dirt and lobster and family.

When we went to buy our Christmas tree our first Christmas together Lee surprised me with this Hallmark ornament.

Statler and Waldorf from the Muppet Show. When you press a button on the front of it they heckle. It's perfect. The following year, the day we got our tree I gave Lee this Oscar the Grouch ornament.

He used to be a real Christmas Grinch so it seemed perfect. It makes me giggle. Really, he's not much of a Christmas grouch these days. (I suspect that his lack of grouchiness is directly proportional to the number of baked goods I produce...)

When we went to BlogHer'09 in Chicago I put Lee in charge of picking out the ornament. He got two. I like this one of the Chicago skyline. Ok, so it's a slightly modified Chicago skyline but still.

When I see this I think of a really long road trip. I think of time spent with with friends. I think of a sunset cruise and getting caught in a nighttime thunderstorm while wearing flip-slips and sitting on the floor of our hotel room shortly after the thunderstorm eating the food that we had gone out to get and barely chewing because I was starving.

We went to BlogHer'10 in New York City this year. We each picked out an ornament. I couldn't resist this one from the New York Public Library.

Our tree is not as full as ornaments as it could be. We do have some ornaments that we bought, just simple coloured balls. But there's still plenty of room for me. We could fill it in with more, make it sparkle more. But I like feeling that our tree, much like our lives is a work-in-progress. It's not done yet. It tells the store of where we've been but we still have plenty of places to go. Bit by bit we'll fill up that tree.

Each year our tree grows as we add another memory, another story. It's perfectly imperfect and full of memories -- just as Christmas should be.