Like family photo sessions where there always seems to be a meltdown, stained clothing, a missing family member, or a black eye that creates some sort of necessary family upset--for us picking our family Christmas tree has turned into a required argument of real vs. fake.
It started out in the midst of those years when the kids were in elementary school. I would be coordinating all the outfits, when to meet at the tree farm, getting film, remembering the camera, arranging the schedule to meet my husband with the kids between school and hunting schedules--and arranging the weather too, if I could.
All for that perfect fun memory and moment with the kids during the holidays.
But being a parent and arranging perfect memories like that was a bit like getting to church with a smile still in place by the time you walk through the doors. Wiping jelly from the cheeks of your son as he gets out of the car, pulling the back of your daughter's dress out of her underwear just in time, plastering on a half-smile as you try to ditch that exhausted feeling after a spat with your spouse just in time to walk through the church doors. You just begin to ponder if you are a fiction production vs. a reality show.
It was a moment like that that our real vs. fake Christmas tree traditional family argument was born.
For all my efforts, everything fell wrong. I forgot the film to my 35mm camera, making Ted late to his tree stand. It rained instead of snowing, and the kids tromped through the tree farm in inches of mud. We argued, seriously-no-fun sort of nagging, about which tree to pick. We had a rule--we must all agree on the perfect tree before Ted leaned in to cut the base and carry it over his shoulders to the wagon that took us for our perfect cup of hot chocolate and popcorn on the way to pay. But I'd messed up the schedule and there were no hot drinks or treats that day either. We were a frumpy bunch about to settle for Charlie Brown's twiggy tree, lick our wounds, and call it quits.
If that wasn't bad enough, the struggle that ensued as Ted tried to fit the knotty tree into the stand just about made him cut it into pieces for fire wood instead. But as we hung ornaments still muttering about the need to just go fake the next year and skip all the headache of real--we glanced through the pine needles, feeling the sting of where the needles had barbed our tender skin, the kids at our feet smiling over their favorite ornaments--our eyes met and we knew.
We would always go with real.
No matter the hassle. The headache. The pain. Real. Being real--it wins hands down.
Now our daughter has graduated college. Our son is married. But once again this year, we'll gather and get a real tree as we have our traditional argument. Real or fake? We smile as we jokingly argue, a sort of special victory settles in our souls as we know we'll survive it all together, imperfect as we are. The pictures might look perfect, but in our hearts, we'll know. However imperfect--we choose authentic.
So even if your turkey dinner flops this week, or you forget to take the giblet bag out before you roast it--or you don't even know what giblets are---just be real. Find the grace of surviving it all together with your families.
Let go of perfect expectations. Hold onto authenticity.
"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Happy Thanksgiving week too all!
What are your holiday family traditions?
What makes your traditions lasting or favorite?
Do you have any messy,
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots.Nurse Practitioner by day.Wife, mother, writer by night.Coffee drinker--any time.
Find me at: www.anneloveauthor.com