Yesterday I (finally) managed to purchase our tree. However! Procrastination was clearly necessary to the whole process because:
1. There was only one tree of the kind I wanted left in the store (yes, it is fake, yes I will use it for years, yes it cost about the same as a real one, YES it comes with the lights already on it praises be!)
2. It was ON SALE (a lot. A really lot. So I got the one I liked and not the one that looked like it had been attacked by rabid squirrels)
3. Did I parenthetically mention it has the lights already on it??
4. It fit in my rather small car! (after a few tense moments and a very worried check-out guy)
5. It fit in my rather small house!
6. It was (just) possible for me to wrestle the box into the house on my own.
7. The male child was exactly the right height to put the top section on AND fluff the branches (although fortunately its more perfectionisty sibling is not tall enough to evaluate the fluffing job)
So we had a happy evening of tree-decorating. When Kirk and I married we decided to buy an ornament each year, a special ornament that would be memorable for every Christmas. We didn't think about the fact that we would have a very, very bare tree for the first... oh... twenty years or so if we only did one, but we filled in nicely with lesser ornaments. However, it's the special yearly ones that I still love, and that we take out carefully and hang up with stories about where we bought them and how we all remember them.
There is the fishing pole that I bought when Kirk first caught salmon fever in Alaska, along with the beautiful wooden fish. There is the painted egg my sister gave us when we were expecting Child 1 and the stacking St. Nicholas we found in a Wienacht market in Frankfurt that Child 2, our Germany child, always gets to hang on the tree. From California we have a white heron with a bobbing head - a particular favorite of mine, and a set of glass octopi with goggly eyes that aren't really ornaments but get perched on branches anyway because we love them.
We have a collection of moose ornaments as well, a legacy of Alaska really, but I still add to it when I find one I love (found one at Target this year - the only one on the rack). One is a garish painted thing with the moose wearing sneakers; it's not something I would ever have bought myself but when we were leaving Alaska a group of my friends gave it to me at a going-away party and I love it because I think of them. The most treasured moose is a little metal ornament with moose heads arranged in a circle - it looks like a snowflake from a distance until you look closely and realize it's antlers and beautifully modeled moose noses.
This year's ornament is actually being used as a tree-topper. We've had several over the years. In Germany we bought a box of dark green glass ornaments that included a glass spire for the very top. Kirk loved it; I did not. To counter it I flung together an angel (sort of - no wings) from a porcelain doll's head and hands, an antique pillowcase and a strip of dark red fabric. I quite liked the effect; Kirk did not. Finally a few years ago we compromised on a multi-pointed gold star which we both could bear but neither really felt strongly about one way or another. But as I was choosing the tree, I turned around and found the perfect topper. It's certainly not traditional, but it looks whimsical and beautiful and somehow right with our moose and our fish, our birds and globes and hand-made popsicle-stick trees. This year our tree is presided over by an owl.
I think we can all use a little wisdom.