Lots of decisions must be made during Christmastime. Where will we gather for the family get-together and when? Who will bring what dish for the meal? What gift goes to which recipient?
There are wish lists to narrow down, store prices to compare, personalized messages in cards to compose — how will we get all of this deciding done in time?
It will be a Christmas miracle if we make it to Dec. 25 without seizing up from decision fatigue.
One decision my wife and I made early on was which kind of tree to put up.
Every year we have the same discussion: Do we go “real” or “fake?” A real tree means hands a bit sticky with sap after you have lugged it to its stand in the corner of the room.
On the other hand, an artificial tree is so easy. You drag the box out from the spot under the stairs where it sits for 11 months. You slip the “branches” into the proper slots on the “trunk;” and before you can say “Ho, ho, ho,” you are in the presence of a perfectly-shaped Douglas fir right out of a perfectly framed winter photo of a snowy mountain landscape. Simple and practical.
This year Becky and I opted for a real tree. We live not too far from a farmer who sells Christmas trees, and the plan was to drive over, choose a tree and saw it down ourselves. Ideally, as we were hauling it out through the woods it would be snowing just enough to make it seem as if we were part of a Currier and Ives tableau.
On the morning of the planned tree farm tree trip, we walked out to the mailbox to get the newspaper. Becky and I glanced at the small white pine tree growing a few feet from the driveway. Now, we walk or drive by this tree every day, but on this particular morning it was as if we were seeing it for the first time. Both of us separately thought it before we said it: “You know, this might work as our Christmas tree.”
We walked slowly around the tree. About 5 feet tall with thin almost willowy branches. We understood right off that they wouldn’t be sturdy enough to hold many of our ornaments. The young tree was not symmetrical by any means and had one particular branch shooting off to the side of the main trunk.
It was impossible not to think of Charlie Brown’s famous scraggly cartoon Christmas tree. Still, the idea that we would be celebrating this Christmas with a tree from our own yard was irresistible. I went to get a saw; and soon the thin, misshapen tree was fitted into its stand in the corner of the room.
Our weak little tree was stronger than we suspected. Turns out it was quite capable of supporting many of the ornaments we chose to hang, and those it wouldn’t support, well, there is always next year. With a string of lights and the decorations, our little tree was not nearly as thin-looking as when we brought it in. We decided it was the right choice, and this tree would be a perfect companion for our holiday celebrations.
We make decisions all through the year, not just at Christmas, of course. You might say we human beings were born to choose. I think about the decision a young maiden 2,000 years ago made to say “Yes” to an angel and how that choice led to other choices and how her “yes” reverberates through time even up to right now, Christmas Eve.
The holiday decisions have been made. On this day we can rest and enjoy.