As soon as Thanksgiving day passed, I automatically switched my focus to Christmas and all of the festivities that it holds. In the Worthley household, Christmas is celebrated all-out. We have traditions that us kids always insisted on doing every year: the Christmas tree had to be decorated to Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is You”, Christmas decor transforms the house into winter wonderland, the Christmas bears had to be placed on the stair steps, eggnog punch is served, favorite cookies are baked, we all opened one gift on Christmas Eve, and we each had to have our own special wrapping paper that we don’t see until Christmas morning…labeled “from Santa” (we still make our parents do this). My mom knew better than to try and switch up these routines…it’s just not worth the fight to her.
So naturally, I entered our marriage with great expectations of the Christmases we will, Lord willing, have together. Matt and I have been brainstorming for awhile about new traditions to begin for our own family, and old traditions to carry over. A lot of my enthusiasm for holidays, decorating, and traditions has evidently rubbed off on Matt because he has excitedly joined in with me on the exhilarating spirit of Christmas activities. One of these activities was the important task of finding the perfect Christmas tree for our first Christmas in our new home. Out of all the Christmas decor one can have in their home, I’ve always seen the Christmas tree as the most important. Not because we worship the tree (I know a few of you allowed that thought to cross your mind…) but because it always seems to draw families together as they gather around the beautiful glow of the lights, filling everyone with a feeling of warmth and gratitude for the small, but fundamental blessings they have been given. And the glow of the tree still mesmerizes me just as much as it did when I was a little girl. In fact, I am blogging next to it right now as the source of my inspiration :). So with great eagerness to find our tree and get it set up, I began searching my planner for a date to visit a tree farm and begin the fun process. Due to a business trip Matt had to make to AZ, we were not able to get a tree the first weekend in December, but alas, the second weekend I decided would be just as good!
Back in October we made a trip to a farm called Linvilla Orchards (also known at that time as Pumpkin Land) to get a pumpkin and enjoy fall festivities. During our hayride that day, the driver told us all about their tree farm they were growing for Christmas. He said it would involve a hayride to the tree orchard where you would be dropped off with a saw to choose and cut down your own tree. How awesome! Cut down our own, first Christmas tree? What a sense of accomplishment! We were sold. So we returned this past Saturday on a quest to find that perfect tree.
Now notice my repetition of the word “perfect.” Here’s where our issue started to begin. Neither Matt or I like to settle in life. Whether looking for the best bargain for a TV, or a dining room table, a career, or a pair of shoes, we just hate settling for something unless we are confident that it is the one we want. This attitude carried over into our quest for a tree. Silly? Yes. Ridiculous? Oh yeah. Now combine this with Matt’s competitive nature and my protectiveness for things that I feel are mine and what do you get?… Matt and I running around the tree orchard for over an hour, racing other people to the best patches of trees, attempting to claim each one we saw as a possibility, and nonverbally trying to scare people away from the trees we wanted left open for options. Yeah, we know.
We expected to only be out in the patches of trees for about 30, maybe 45 minutes. I thought i’d spot the perfect one like on Christmas Vacation or like how I spotted each perfect prom dress. But these trees were just lacking in so many ways. Where was our perfectly symmetrical tree that was not too wide, but not too narrow? One that was full from the bottom to the top; not full at the bottom but sparse at the top? This perfect tree could not be found. But surely it is out here somewhere I thought to myself. We would think we found a good one, but after circling it twice we’d start to pick it apart and discuss what was wrong with it until it looked completely undesirable. Then Matt would spot a patch of trees just over the hill. They looked so good and GREEN over there! All of a sudden we were filled with anxiety; QUICK! RUN! THE GOOD TREES ARE IN THAT PATCH OVER THERE. WE HAVE TO GET THERE BEFORE THE OTHER PEOPLE DO! Matt ran full force over the hill, and I jogged/waddled behind him, trying to keep up in my platform white boots. (Apparently not realizing we looked like crazy people). It was as if we were convinced we were being chased and had to fight for food to survive off of. And why? All because we were consumed with finding our perfect tree…not settling. Surely we were above that.
Panting, we made it to the greener patch just over the hill. But all of a sudden, up close, it wasn’t so green anymore. The trees weren’t so tall, they weren’t so full. Shoot. What a let down! These are no good. Not good enough! Wait…there is another patch to the right. Run! This pattern went on at least four times…
Finally we came to the conclusion that no trees we were seeing were exactly what we were picturing. We knew we just had to choose one and would have to just enjoy the process of cutting it down and finding satisfaction in housing a tree we plucked out ourselves. After finding one that looked the best to us for our specific qualifications, Matt went to work with the saw. He got about half way into the trunk and we decided we like the one 2 rows over better. (Just don’t tell the farmers..its all good. We made it easier for someone else!). THEN we chose one and cut it…all the way. My strong man dragged it over to the path where workers came along and took it for us to prepare for departure. While we were waiting for them, we began to second guess our tree. The bottom branches looked dead…the people’s tree next to us didn’t look that way. Their’s was better! Where did they find it? What were we missing?!?. We debated dragging the tree back into the patch and leaving it there, and finding a better one. However, a combination of thirst, exhaustion, and guilt at the thought of abandoning our chopped tree, prompted us to keep it and head back up to the farm entrance/check out. “Our tree is good enough.” “It will look just fine in our house.” “Yes, this is a good tree!”.
We stepped off of the hayride to go pay for our tree when we passed the pre-cut patch of trees.
“Wow. Hunny look at these!.”
“They look amazing! Which patch did these come from?!? They’re so green!”
“They are perfectly symmetrical.”
“And so green, lush. Perfectly full.”
“And look – it’s cheaper than ours!”
“You know, we don’t have to get the one we cut…”
“No, we couldn’t just abandon it…could we?”
“Oh, we could.”
“But its not the one we cut down!”
“So. No one has to know. They don’t know who actually cut one down and who didn’t”
In the end, we passed up the seemingly perfect pre-cut trees and stuck with our cut down tree. We decided it was more fun to have the one we spent so long searching for and cutting ourselves. The day turned out to be quite amusing and we got a kick out of ourselves and our ridiculousness. What started out as cocky confidence in our supreme ability to find the best tree, ended in our humbling search for a tree that is in fact, not perfect. It’s not completely symmetrical, it could be more green, and some of the branches at the bottom are dropping dead needles. But its OUR tree. Our first Christmas tree, for our first Christmas, in our first home. And it has a pretty fun tale behind it :). We were reminded that nothing here on earth is actually perfect. When we strive for perfection we end up in a never-ending, exhausting chase. Searching for something that doesn’t exist. Our efforts are in vain, and we will end up unfulfilled with lots of wasted time. I’m ok with experiencing this for one afternoon, if it meant bringing me back to reality and teaching me lessons. But I wouldn’t be ok with this for an entire life. I refuse to waste my time here, searching for perfection and fulfillment on earth. Perfection exists in God and His son Jesus Christ alone. And its pretty awesome that for those who know Christ, we will one day experience this perfection. But for now, we must accept that life is not perfect. As we enter into Christmas, may we all remember the true meaning of Christmas: Christ’s entrance into this world to come and save you and me. He lived a perfect life and then died for our sins. Yours. Mine. The whole world’s. He rose again, conquering death and sin, bringing salvation and restoration to all who would believe in Him. It’s not about the perfect tree. It’s not about the perfect decor, or presents, or treats. These things are all good and fine to enjoy. But they should never take the place of Jesus Christ in our hearts. This year, Matt and I have been reminded of that through our first year of cutting down our own tree. And yet with all it’s imperfections, it still looks stunningly beautiful if I do say so myself. The lights glow, the ornaments shine, and it still mesmerizes me. And the best part was creating memories as husband and wife and decorating it with joy, love, and thankful hearts.
Here are a few photos from our day: