House & Home – The Two sided Christmas Tree

I have this thing, this THING for short fat Christmas trees.

It’s a combination of my love for their shape and because I know what my house needs in a tree (and well, maybe I do like them fat and full round the bottom because, well, I can relate!)  We live in a two-bedroom apartment, standard 9-foot speckled ceilings, decorated with love and care for its limited space.  I am happy to have to have less in a world that is always seeking to make you believe you need more.

And sure enough, our short, fat tree looks tall and full in our home.  With lights and glass globes and trinkets hanging beautifully from her limbs, a red burlap skirt surrounding the bottom and a large red and white gingham ribbon bow tied with many loops at the top.

So much of my “taste” or my “style statements” are just sentiments.  In this case, the fact that I did not want to make a huge deal about (or spend much on) finding a tree-topper or skirt, but that I did want to make it special and taken care of for my John.  Last Christmas was our first Christmas being married, with a tight budget and next to no collected Christmas decorations between us.  While my mom’s friend from work made the topper (with matching ribbon-loops to carry throughout the tree), my mom found and purchased the matching Christmas-red burlap to drape as the skirt.  They did it as a surprise and all of a sudden, that was crossed off of my list.  And i loved it!  I will almost always choose a story and a sentiment – others’ care for us – over a perception or opinion of beauty, perfection, or desirability.  That is a precious way to decorate a home, and our house is largely built on them.  Stories, sentiments, even if they are not worth much in the eyes of others.

I look at the tree and I see crocheted snowflakes from my late grandmother, about 7 or 8 of them hanging from the branches, which were given to me by my mother.  And I see my mother’s own gifts, globes that were selected just for John and I, with music notes, piano keys, my college mascot, or even our names carefully Sharpied in along with our wedding date.  Throw in some classic childhood wonders (the set of porcelain baby shoes with the year I was born, a tin can lid hammered in to make the shape of a bear (?), or Michael Jordan himself) and we have our beautiful, precious, room-for-us-as-we-grow Christmas tree.


small, quiet

In the wake of a high and bright Independence Day vacation, the week that followed was long and barren, covered in a misleading thunder cloud.  Day after day, there it was, beautiful and threatening without the fulfillment of a silencing, engulfing storm.  I wanted my breath to be taken away, I wanted to look out and be scared, to be in fear.  Instead I just felt taunted, like the sky knew my feelings and wanted to mirror them back to me, jeering “Look at what’s in you!” Monday through Saturday.  Not one day or hour of sunlight in between.

Every corner I turn in myself, I am faced with a familiar band of misfits –  Comparison, Jealousy, Self-consciousness, and Proving.  Right next to me, walking beside me, is Peace.  What I really get exhausted by is having to constantly make decisions about my thinking, my feelings, and my behavior.  I cannot be trusted to auto-pilot walking around the labyrinths of my heart, the gardens of the day to day in me.  I am in constant need.

Do you think, over time, that I can fully surrender to being piloted by someone other than myself?

My eyes and ears always covered, and hands guiding me wherever I go, gently pulling me along, would I find joy in knowing the extent of my need with every step and turn, because of my complete dependence on Peace?  It is choosing to be stupid to surroundings.  Choosing to be blind and deaf and unknowing of the next steps and turns.  It is completely opposite of what I almost narcissistically prefer.  Control.  I hate not knowing my bearings.  I hate not understanding where I am and making decisions for myself.

One option is exhausting and scary, and one is just scary.  But probably, eventually, miraculously, my not having eyes or ears will become having those of a different kind.

On Saturday the same storm cloud was present, and finally, it rained.  I sat like a little girl, hands crossed over my chest, sitting criss-cross applesauce on the couch, desperate to hold on to my sour attitude.

On Sunday, I walked into church, wet hair, leftover anger (what I have dubbed the “angover”), and I surrendered to Peace.  Melting, letting go, putting things in their place (ie: not with me) felt like a hot, steaming shower in the dead of winter.  I love my little white flag.  It makes my life a monument to something other than myself.