We had two Christmas trees in our little townhouse when I was a kid. No idea why.
Our "perfect" tree sat upstairs. It was fake and covered with clumps of fake white snow. Also no idea why. This was the tree only Mom decorated. With breakable blue teardrops and mirrored diamonds. It was pretty...and boring. Beneath is sat a perfect and breakable winter village. It was so tempting with the adorable little ice rink with skaters and the little houses that lit up. But they were off-limits.
Downstairs was "our" Christmas tree. The real one. Prickly pine needles and all. The weekend after Thanksgiving our family of four would faithfully drive to our favorite Christmas tree farm and hunt for the perfect tree--short and fat--just like our family. Then dad would cut it down after struggling for a while with the saw, strap it to the car and set it up a week or so later after it marinated in a bucket of water outside. Again, no idea why.
The day we decorated the real tree was the best. Mom would carry down boxes of ornaments collected over the years and Kelly and I could barely contain our excitement. We'd dig in the boxes to find our favorites--little dolls and tiny animals, and we'd create our own magical little world.
Then, reluctantly, after a couple days, we'd hang our favorite ornaments on the tree. Our gorgeous tree---decked out with big, colorful bulbs---the old fashioned kind, and topped with an angel as old as me I guess. And the best were all those ornaments---they all had a story. There were school pictures and handprints, and hand-painted Christmas trees or Santas we bought at the school Christmas shop. They celebrated milestones or served as reminders of fun vacations. They were the best.
Today, many of those same ornaments are hung on our tree. And, our tree is very real. Scott, the kids and I search every year for the best tree--one with a nice shape, a good trunk and not too heavy to carry. Then, Scott chops it down, straps it on the car and we drag it into the house. Scott strings the tiny colorful lights around, and I lug up the ornament boxes as Julie and Johnny excitedly dig in. I listened this year as Julie and Johnny talked about each ornament, what they remembered about it and why it was special.
Real trees are full of memories.