Long ago, Paul and I walked to a Christmas tree lot two blocks from our apartment to purchase our first Christmas tree. It was crazy cold, several degrees below zero.
I liked the slender trees with spaced-out branches and short needles. Paul pulled out big, round, full trees with long needles.
We stood there in the cold and went through three of the five steps of a mixed-tree marriage: persuasion, negotiation and compromise.
“Look at this tree,” I said, “It’s ideal for showcasing ornaments.”
“We do not have ornaments,” Paul said. “Now, this tree makes a statement. It fills up a room.”
“We do not have room,” I said.
“Short needles are prickly. Feel these soft, long needles,” Paul said.
“Short needle trees stay fresh longer,” I said with the authority of someone who heard somebody say this.
“Why don’t we get a slender tree with short needles this year, since there’s not much room in the apartment?” I said.
“This year, why don’t we get a full tree with long needles, since we don’t have many ornaments?” Paul countered.
Two hours later, I had lost feeling in my toes. Paul’s mustache had grown icicles. With some resignation, we settled on a tree. It was neither slender nor full with medium-length needles.
By the time we got the tree home and up in its stand, it was time for lunch. From the dinette, we heard an unusual sound: Tinkle. Tinkle. TINKLE. TINKLE! TINKLE!
We followed the sound to the living room. Our Christmas tree stood in a pile of its own needles.
Wordlessly, we took the tree skeleton out of the stand and walked it back to the Christmas tree lot.
In less than five minutes we picked out a new tree. In accelerated fashion, we entered the fourth stage of a mixed-tree marriage: acceptance. Once a Christmas tree is yours, it is beautiful.
The next year, we arrived at the Christmas tree lot armed with pre-Internet research. Blue spruce had a reputation for holding its needles. We would find our perfect Christmas tree among the blue spruce.
In one short year, we moved from affiliating with the trees of our childhood to this new understanding of “our tree.”
Over the years, we had fresh-cut trees, fancy garden-center trees, a big artificial tree and a wee one. It never fails, once a tree is ours, it is beautiful.
Find a link to Sue Edison-Swift’s blog A Hyphenated Life at Lutheran Blogs.