November 24, 2017
Big Betty. She’s rotund. She’s big-boned. She’s a big gal. Lauren thought she was a boy, but I told her only a girl could cause this much drama in my life. You wouldn’t know it from looking at her, but she’s lopsided and pitches forward. Ask me how I know. That’s what happens when you grow up on the side of a mountain.
She’s a Concolor Fir tree with medium length needles and a citrus scent. Nobody sells them down here anymore, so it’s up to the mountains for a tree. Lauren’s Friend Zoey and Emily’s friend Cheyanne joined us. What’s two more kids.
Last year, we didn’t want to bother with the mountains, so we bought a Frazier Fir from a tree lot in Clemmons. It never took up even a drop of water, so it was very dead very quickly. We kept the fire extinguisher right next to the tree and the girls were not allowed to plug in the tree lights unless Paul or I were in the room. We tossed it to the curb the day after Christmas. And for even more excitement, a week before Christmas last year the main-floor toilet overflowed and ruined our hardwood floors and rained down into the garage below. We spent 2 weeks in a hotel having new floors put in and the garage repaired. It’s a year later and we are still dealing with the contractor and the floors.
This tree farm has pony rides and a hay ride, hot cocoa and other goodies, Santa, a craft center, and A Charlie Brown Christmas loops nonstop inside the barn. Everybody was having a great time. Emily and Cheyanne flitted around the barn. Lauren and Zoey posed for 25 pics until the sun was shining on their faces just so, and their hair was flipped the right way. Grace was just calm and collected. Still waters, that one.
I found Big Betty almost immediately. She was cut, taken down the mountain to the barn, wrapped, and paid for. We stopped for lunch and headed for home.
Paul trimmed several inches from the length of the trunk and from the top. Big Betty’s trunk is so wide, it looks like an elephant’s foot. Watching Paul try to fit Betty into the tree base was like watching Drizella trying to squeeze into Cinderella’s glass slipper. He had to trim away a few inches in diameter just to fit the trunk into the tree base. He has never needed my help carrying the tree inside the house, but he did today. Paul did not want to decorate the tree, but I said “please,” and he admitted that it is his life goal to make Momma happy.
She was dressed in 5 strands of lights, but since she is so broad, it looks like she needs 3 more strands. Some girls just need more sparkle than others. We had the star on top of the tree, and more than half of the ornaments. We stepped away for a minute. CRASH! “The tree fell!” By the time we got to the living room, Betty looked like a beached whale laid out on the rug. Ornaments were either smashed or trapped under Betty’s impressive weight. And all the water from the tree base was spilled on my new hardwood floors. We tugged at Betty to move her aside so we could soak up the water. Paul tried to upend her, but that broke the tree base. Off he went to Home Depot for a new base while the girls and I tried to pick up as many of the ornaments as we could.
I wanted to cry. Grace had run out for a while. Lauren was at Zoey’s. Emily and Cheyanne had walked across the street to see their 3rd grade teacher. I threw a fit in the kitchen. I stomped and screamed because absolutely nothing was the way I wanted it. Nothing. I know God well enough to know that He was trying to show me something more about His character. But I was defeated right at that moment. And I didn’t know what He was trying to show me.
Paul brought home a massive and sturdy tree base. I noticed the trunk was crooked and thought that maybe having the crooked part removed would prevent it from pitching forward. His handsaw wasn’t cooperating, so I suggested the chainsaw. “Do you really want me to use a chainsaw in our living room?!?!” Well, yeah. Words were spoken. Some under his breath and some not. When Cheyanne heard the chainsaw coming up the basement steps, she said “it’s just like that Texas chainsaw movie!” Great. Now when Cheyanne thinks back on today, she won’t remember the pony ride. She will remember the chainsaw.
We righted the tree and I told Paul to “just please go.” I sent him to have a drink with his friend Dustin. The girls and I swept up the sawdust from the chainsaw and a ton of pine needles. I superglued some of the broken ornaments. My favorite Santa ornament is now an amputee because I cannot find his right knee and foot. Grace’s Nemo was on the tree pre-fall, but now it’s missing. I think Big Betty swallowed it whole.
My sister Laura reminded me that they have had 2 trees fall, and that 2 years ago was the “Christmas of Laura’s discontent.” She suggested we put weights on the new base, so I put two 15 pound dumbbells under the tree skirt.
Last year was my waterproof Christmas. And this year, I’m staring at a tree that has frustrated us more than any other. But I’ve learned that even water damage on 2 levels of my house and 2 weeks in a hotel cannot ruin Christmas. Soaked towels can not dampen the joy of what God is delivering on Christmas. Industrial fans and dehumidifiers cannot drown out the sound of Christmas carols. Splintered sub floors and broken ornaments cannot tear me from God’s hand. Dust pans and vacuums and brooms can clean up a host of problems. Short tempers are best tempered by apologies. And I should not make a bigger deal out of fir tree than I make out of my Savior. It’s a tree. It’s a fiasco. It’s a mess. It’s a bother. But really, it’s just a tree. Ok God. I get it. Now, about next year…