Several years ago, we purchased a cheap, pre-lit, artificial Christmas tree from Fleet Farm. It had been clearanced after the holiday, and we figured we could use it on those Christmases when we were travelling for much of the Christmas season and didn't want a pricier real tree browning in our living room while we were gone.
The first time we set it up, the kids were excited. The box showed a mother and child decorating a beautiful, full, authentic-looking evergreen and brimming with holiday cheer. The box contained a green steel pole and stand, wrapped in what appeared to be the green shag version of outdoor carpet, and an array of giant green pipe-cleaners.
We put it together, bent the branches as best we could to block the view of the pole, and stepped back to admire our creation. Gabe looked from the bedraggled "tree" to the box and back again. "Can they do that?" he asked.
We sometimes still use the tree, just for a little extra greenery and lights, in some out-of-the-way corner of our home. This year we put it behind the Big Chair in our living room, and when we lucked into some extra Christmas decorations on Freecycle, we found ourselves with extra green, red, and gold balls, so we agreed to hang them on the fake tree.
The result is pictured above. It's still a poor fake tree, but it doesn't look half bad.
Last Christmas, on the heels of a miscarriage, Santa brought us a bird-feeder and seed for the backyard and a dove ornament bearing a message of Peace, in little Jude's memory. As we were decorating our real tree, a nice blue spruce, someone in the family spied the little dove and suggested we put it on the fake tree -- then, assuming Santa brings us another ornament for Jude this year, he can hang it on that tree, too.
So we did exactly that. Perhaps you can spy the dove on the tree above, as well.
A day or two later, Jodi and Trevor were talking as I came upstairs. Jodi saw me and said, "Trevor, you should tell Dad what you think we should call the fake tree."
"What's that?" I asked.
Trevor smiled his slightly embarrassed smile -- a sure sign he is very excited about something but not sure how you'll react. "I think we should do this every year, and put Jude's ornaments on it," he explained. "Then we could call it the Lost and Loved Tree..." (Here I choked back instant tears, and he went on to explain what needed none -- that we lost a baby last year, and we miss and love our lost little one.)
Our previously pathetic, fake-Charlie-Brown tree has since taken on new beauty and significance, and my bride and I agree we can't even consider not doing this again next year. Every year, we discuss new traditions we could start for our family. This year a new one was born independent of us, from a fake little tree and real big heart. Thanks, Trevor.
Labels: Christmas, family, fatherhood, Gabe, Jodi, Jude, Trev