christmas+tree+001“Okay, I’m right in front of the trees,” Jon reported over the phone. He was standing in front of the fake Christmas trees at Costco. “Which one do you want. 7 ½’, 9’ or 12’?”

A few years ago, we bit the bullet and switched from a fresh to a fake Christmas tree. It was calling my name from the warehouse-store aisle. The pre-lit beauty needed to be in our house. It seemed so easy and convenient. And we figured that despite the rather large cash outlay, in the end we would save money.

We’ve enjoyed that tree for several years. Until last year.

Last year, we sold our house to a family who promptly tore it down, opting to build a larger, more up-to-date abode. It wasn’t until the bulldozers had done their duty that we realized only half of our fake tree had made the move. The other half, still in the attic, went down with the house.

It was a sad moment – on so many fronts.

We survived, though the tree didn’t, and committed to replace the fake tree for Christmas this year. Being on our A-game, we struck early. I noticed the trees several weeks ago and asked Jon to grab one the next time he stopped to shop.

“Oh … the 9’ for sure,” I told him. We’ve never had a nine-footer. We’ve only lived in old houses. Old houses with regular ceilings. Our new house, though a remodeled 1940’s old house, has a sunken family room. Perfect for a tall tree. I’ve always dreamed of having a nice tall tree.

“Nine-foot? Are you sure?” Jon asked.

“Yes – I’m sure,” I assured him.

Note to self: Measure before you buy.

It wasn’t pretty yesterday when we opened the box after returning from our Thanksgiving time with family. It didn’t take long to realize that our ceiling isn’t quite nine feet tall.

“Honey, here … hold the tape measurer right here.”

“Mom, this is the third time you’ve measured,” moaned the daughter I had recruited to hold an end while I checked the inches. “I don’t think it’s going to change.”

She was right.

No matter how many times I checked, it just didn’t measure to be exactly what I had hoped for it to be.

As I began to put the tree back in its box to return, I thought about how, so often, our holidays are like that tree – measuring a bit differently than what we might have hoped.

We primp, wrangle and pose for the perfect picture to put on the perfect card to share with friends and family. We search for just the right words to let everyone know how our year has gone. We decorate. We bake. We fight the lines to get deals on just the right gifts. And we sit back and hope we hit the mark.

Then we receive cards and letters, some of which seem to have cornered the market on spin, and wonder if we measure up? Have our kids accomplished all that we hoped? Do we look okay? Does anyone notice that our picture was snapped on a cell phone spur of the moment by a recruited neighbor? Does it look a bit skimpy compared to countless professional photo cards, backdropped by the shores of the Florida coast, that have already started filling our mailbox.

And how can anyone get their cards out so early?! Recipients of our Christmas card might be getting two cards in their envelope this year. Somehow I might never have gotten around to mailing the 2012 lot. I just had too much going on.

The measuring up can be so stressful.

It can take the joy out of such a wonderful celebration.

Needless to say, the measuring-tape daughter and I loaded up our mis-fit tree and headed back for an exchange. Unfortunately, the same folks that have already done their holiday cards have also purchased every fake Christmas tree.

“I’m sorry, they’re all gone,” the very nice Costco attendant told me when I asked to exchange. “But we have a lovely live tree.”

I look over at the live tree. I’m sad about missing out on my convenient and easy-to-store fake beauty, but am attracted by the live-tree price tag. I’m pretty sure we have lights from years gone by. So why not?

I realign my expectations and what I thought would be anchoring our family room and purchase the live tree. A nice guy loaded it on the top of our car and off we went.

Who knew how lovely the tree would look in our room?

Who knew how much a live tree could brighten our home?

What didn’t measure up has actually been a huge blessing. I hope the wonderful aroma will serve as a reminder to me:

  • Don’t sweat the mismeasurement moments.
  • Celebrate friendships.
  • Put aside the tendencies to compare.
  • Don’t let anything steal the joy.

And by all means, enjoy the season. Even one that seemed to start before Thanksgiving was even over.

Thanks for walking the road with me.


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