There’s a poorly decorated, fake Christmas tree standing in the corner of my living room. It is not the fresh evergreen, decked in frosted glass balls that I dreamed I would have as a grown up. The tree skirt is rumpled into a ball below it.
My husband made a train track on a wooden circle that we set the tree in the middle of every year, but we rarely set the train up on it. Our children are young.
They pluck the train from the tracks and throw the cars at each other. The cars wind up in random places, like halfway sticking out from under a bed or dangerously close to a toilet bowl.
Our children can’t be trusted with frosted glass balls within reach, and placing them out of their reach on the tree would just invite them to do something silly, like stand on top of each other to grab them. I only allow large jingle bells on the tree now. They are too robust to shatter when thrown at a wall or a child, and we can hear when the kids run off with them.
We can barely find time between feeding 3 kids to clean up every day messes. We can’t commit to watering an evergreen and then sweeping it’s needles up on top of all of that.
That plush velvet tree skirt I have my eye on in the Pottery Barn catalog, the one I’ll have our family name embroidered on, will have to wait another year. I spent our entire Christmas decorations budget on new stockings- five of them, personalized, a matching lineup that fills out our mantle as much as my heart. Besides, I’m not sure it will bunch as nicely into a makeshift, child-size pillow for light watching from below the fake limbs.
This Christmas tree, for better or worse, in all it’s uncoordinated and uneven glory, is what the holidays mean to me. It represents this season in our life. Messy and chaotic. Unpredictable and uneven. But colorful, bright, and reflective of life with small children.