Chopping Down the Tree

I’ve talked about it before, about this imaginary world inside my head.  Fantopia, it’s called.  It’s a fantasy utopia where my life is perfect.  It’s a nice place, until I try to merge Fantopia with Reality, then it’s just depressing.

Case in point:  Since we moved to the mountains, we thought it would be a fun, new family tradition to go to the forest and cut down a Christmas tree.  Can’t you picture it?  The fun, the family, the forest.  Just us and an axe and a small pine tree.

I have looked forward to this for a few months.  In Fantopia, where everything is perfect, we adorn ourselves in flannel grays and reds and caps with earflaps and we load up in the truck.  We sing Christmas carols on the way to the woods where we trek through the snow to find the perfect Christmas tree waiting just for our family.  We hold hands and encircle it, singing Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, with wide smiles on our faces.  

Then we chop it down, while posing for a family picture that would later be sent out in Christmas cards to friends and family near and far.  After we get home, we drink hot chocolate while listening to Christmas carols on the radio, the house warmed with fire and love.  

In Reality, this is what happened instead:  We had no matching flannel grays and reds or hats with flaps, we barely found everyone’s jackets.  We loaded up in the truck, along with a pink ladybug potty seat, since EK hasn’t learned to squat in the woods just yet.  We drove way too far and way too long to find the perfect Christmas tree.  EK sat in her seat and complained the whole time, arguing with Ashlynn and fussing when she touched her carseat.   We trekked around in a little bit of snow, not finding a tree even close to perfect.

So we loaded back up in the truck and drove some more all the while analyzing trees.  Too short, too tall, too thin, too scraggly.  Let’s get out and check that one out.  Nope.  How about that one?  Nope.  Finally we agreed, more from exhaustion than satisfaction on a small little tree with a split trunk.  Thankfully EK had fallen asleep by this time and we were all breathing a sigh of relief,  but unfortunately the family photo op didn’t happen with her in it.

DSC_2188  DSC_2196

Once home, we couldn’t find the tree stand because obviously I’d thrown it out in one of my decluttering stages.  After one run to Walmart for a tree stand, we discovered we didn’t have any working lights, so back to Walmart again.  JDub went to work on the tree.  He trimmed it up, cut it off, and dug out an old bird’s nest.  And then it took a good long while to put the tree in it’s stand without tipping over.

It is a monstrosity!  Here’s a tidbit:  A small tree in the forest is a big tree in your living room.  It may look small out in the big old wilderness next to behemoth pines, but indoors next to the Lazy Boy, it’s quite impressive.  It’s got one side that’s bare and one side that looks pregnant.  It’s crooked and crazy.  Some limbs grow up, some grow down.

Instead of the family joining together and decorating, I did it begrudgingly, realizing much too late that we should have said to heck with family traditions and put up the dadgum prelit Christmas tree sitting in the garage with its tree stand tucked safely in its green vinyl bag.

So while everyone in the world displays and enjoys their perfectly shaped trees with color coordinated ornaments, I give you our tree with no lights on the top because there’s no way I could have reached it even if I had enough lights to put on it, with its hodgepodge mixmatched ornaments from way back.  It’s not pretty, it’s not decorated well, the bottom strand of lights flicker on and off sporadically, and it sticks out nearly to the front door.


But after all the hoopla, today I have to say it’s kind of growing on me with all its imperfections.  It’s like so many of us.  Messed up in all sorts of ways.  But that’s the way it was created, just like us.  So instead of looking upon it with contempt,  I embrace this messed up tree and rid myself of the perfectionistic attitude that society forces upon me as to what our Christmas tree should look like.

It is what it is.

And so am I.

‘Tis the season.


  1. doreen bruce says:

    Wallace and I really enjoyed your trip to cut down a tree. Your post is so very good and the truth comes through in the end.It made us remember a time in Pagosa Springs when Waynes, Tammy, Sharon, Jennifer and all of us went up the mountain to get a tree. Oh what a time we had. Making wonderful memories with you family and may God richly bless all of you as you make them.We love all of you. Date: Mon, 2 Dec 2013 21:12:30 +0000 To:


    1. Angel says:

      Thank you Doreen! We love you as well. And yes, we are making memories. That’s what is important.


  2. Beckett Hamilton says:

    Great post! And, I think it’s a fantastic tree. Our tree doesn’t have a single store-bought or matching ornament. All of them are ones made by my daughter throughout her school days. She’s 26 now, pregnant with my first (and according to her, last) grandson. I wouldn’t trade our homely tree for all the money in the world. I love your blog. Merry Christmas to you and yours, and God bless.


  3. Judith Auwen says:

    I love your story. I want to read it at Sunday School next weekend if it is okay with you. I love you. We have the kids and Christa until Christmas.


  4. Donna H. says:

    OMGosh ..I do believe this is my favorite post ever, and I’ve been hanging around for awhile now! I haven’t laughed that hard and long for a very long time!!! Funny thing is, I’ve been to “Fantopia” many, many times myself….. a few times, looking for that SAME tree you were looking for and wearing our red and black flanneled shirts and singing Christmas carols, too! (NOT!!!) There was some words going on, but it definitely was not singing! Is it possible we could be related in some way??? I thought I would P– my pants when I got to the part about the tree looking small (and pregnant?) until you set it up by the Lazy-Boy!! (On a totally different note, I felt that way about the Lazy-Boy looking small until they delivered it and put it where I had envisioned it and it was GINORMOUS!!!) I was certain they had delivered the wrong one! Back to the tree … I love your tree! I love your post and most of all … I love you (and your beautiful family)!!! We are what we are, for sure. Wishing you and yours a blessed holiday season. Until next time … Donna H.


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