Us Sebek children always knew how to ruin the annual ritual of choosing a Christmas tree. In some ways, I think we just liked keeping tradition– which was to go to Target with mom, argue constantly about what tree we should get, suggest going to another store for the tree, listen to mom get upset that all the trees were already dead, watch mom struggle to get the tree on top of the mini-van by herself, and then go home and “help” decorate.
When my mom started in on the themed trees in junior high, we were all devastated. The first year (Cowboy Christmas, circa 1995) us kids inisted on our own tiny tree in the family room where we could proudly display our handcrafted ornaments. What was on Mom’s tree? Twine, flowers and cowboys stars. It sounds ugly, but it worked. (I personally prefer her Hawaiian Christmas though. It was much better than the American Flag themed tree…) Anyway, I’m telling you all this to give some background on my childhood, which will further explain the Miller Family adventure yesterday to a lovely little tree stand called Home Depot.
First, we accidently slept in a little later than planned on Saturday which wouldn’t have been a problem except Jonathan is in the middle of finals and had a study date at noon. Keeping with our tradition, we wanted to get breakfast together and then choose our tree. (Home Depot is always our spot. Who, on a budget, can resist a $20 tree?) So, we walked to Starbucks, indulged in a breakfast wrap and then took Jonathan’s car to the Depot. (Every year he insists we take his car so that mine won’t get scratched by pine branches….and I always argue that my car won’t get scratched and he’s being paranoid.) We screeched into the parking lot, walk to the $20 section and discuss size. I always believe that bigger is better and I convinced him to go for a 6-7 ft tree. He held up the first tree and we both agree that it looks exactly like all the other trees in the section (I’m not one for discussing bald spots or uneven branches for any longer than a minute). At this point, our tree buying experience was easier than easy. No lines, no arguing– we just bought the big bush and took it to the car. Which, sadly, is when the trouble started.
I tied the tree on the roof with a ball of twine and wrap it through the car (picture all the windows down). Then, after I’ve doubled knotted it all, we realized, as we do every year, that Jonathan’s car has those old-school automatic seatbelts that roll up when the car doors open. It might be hard to imagine, but what it means is that the rope gets cut off or stuck as the seatbelts roll up. In past years, we’ve tried to solve this problem by crawling through the windows so that the belts wouldn’t roll up but this year we attempted to pull the rope down and let the seatbelts roll past…it sorta worked but it loosened the rope which meant that I literally had to hang my right hand out the window the whole ride home to hold the tree on the roof and then use my left hand to hold the rope tight. It was an ugly, scary site… especially because my bickering, complaining voice came out–which sounds like, “we do this every year Jonathan. EVERY YEAR! Why can’t we figure this out! I told you we should have brought my car… we could kill someone if this tree flies off. Then how would we feel? Huh? I’m serious, pull over, go slower. Stop! Stop! My hands are too cold. I need a break!….” and on and on and on. It was so romantic.
All that to say, our beautiful tree is now on display at our front window. It takes up half the room. Jonathan was right- we should have gotten a smaller one but I still love it. I am proudly showcasing my 2nd grade picture ornament, as well as other family favorites my mom has passed on. And, I shined and polished all 25 of my silver bell ornaments that my mom has given me each year on Christmas morning.
Although I didn’t post a picture of the tree, I am posting a picture of a traditional German Christmas market. Four years ago I spent early December in Austria with the rest of Westmont’s Europe Semester crew. We visited several Christmas markets during our time in Austria, Germany and Prague and it was a truly magical time of year to spend overseas. Today I walked down the street to a Christmas market at the German community center…it wasn’t nearly the same but still brought back wonderful memories. What did you do to get in the season this weekend?