Eliza Jane

November 24, 2018

Her name is Eliza Jane. I had given up finding her before we ever even left town. The Christmas tree is Momma’s choice. Always has been. Don’t tree shame me. Paul’s fine with it, and the girls can have their own choices someday. We go to a particular tree farm in the mountains because I can’t find concolor trees down here. But after the drama of last year, I assumed nobody would object if I said we would skip the trip up the mountain and I would just settle for a local tree. But my kids said we have to go to the tree farm. The concolors are near the top of the mountain, so we hauled ourselves through a forest of fraziers. This year the concolor pickings were slim. Figuratively slim. Literally they were broad and tall and even bigger than last year’s Big Betty. We can’t do that again. Instead we picked out a frazier fir and looked for a guy with a chainsaw to cut it down. Then Paul spotted concolor Eliza Jane. We probably walked right past her climbing the mountain and didn’t even see her. Must be the story of her life. You’d think she’d stand out being the only concolor surrounded by fraziers, but she didn’t. She seemed suitable and appropriate. I don’t think I’ve ever been called suitable or appropriate.

When we got her home, I realized we’d need more lights so I ran to the store. By the time I got home, Eliza Jane was already all prim and proper settled in her tree base in my living room. And she smelled divine. Concolors have a citrus scent, and I could smell her perfume when I came in from the garage. Turns out, she doesn’t need more lights. She’s no Betty. Eliza Jane is modest and unassuming. I’ve got her preprogrammed lights set to a slow fade, which suits her.

Paul loves to shape and trim Christmas tree branches, and I always tell him his trimming is too extra. He didn’t trim Eliza Jane. When we got her home, Paul unwrapped her from her bindings and let her branches settle into the prettiest conical shape. She was perfect right out of the womb. Usually I gather up the trimmings and put them in simmering water to make a potpourri, but this year I only have one short bough.

Big Betty came in like a hurricane. A wrecking ball. She was difficult and fussy just trying to shove her gargantuan trunk into a too-small tree stand. She objected to being sparsely accessorized, and when we dared to walk away for just a minute, she felt ignored and in true diva form she threw a fit by flopping herself down onto the floor, breaking her tree stand, dumping out water, and smashing some ornaments while swallowing others whole.

Eliza Jane is dressed in the same baubles as all our previous trees (minus the ones Big Betty broke), plus one more bauble we had made last year. Our girls are pretty much past the stage of making new ornaments at school, but we have a new family ornament made each year at the mall kiosk. We’ve got quite the collection of personalized, annual ornaments and they each mean so much to me with each of our names and the year written on them. She’s so much smaller than Big Betty, though. She can’t handle quite as many sparklies as Betty. She understands the art of being understated, so she doesn’t carry as many flashy trinkets. Big Betty was that gal that demanded your attention and her jewelry philosophy was “the more, the better,” and if her accessories didn’t catch your eye, her 5 strands of winking, blinking flirting lights wouldn’t be ignored.

This girl doesn’t have a bad side that needs to face the corner. Even her inner branches are perfect without dry patches. She’s the kind of lady whose petticoats are ironed and pressed even though there’s no chance of anybody looking up her skirt to see them. Eliza Jane’s slender trunk fits gracefully in the huge tree stand Betty demanded that we buy after she smashed the original one. But Eliza Jane is modest enough not to draw attention to her slight frame. Her tree skirt smoothly covers the base, but like I said, nobody would disrespect Eliza Jane by looking underneath.

She puts on airs. She’s the guest who shows up with the perfect hostess gift and has her hair and makeup done just to go to the grocery. She’s a lady who has never known a hard day’s work, and there’s no dirt under her nails. You might say she’s a kept lady. Eliza Jane came from privilege. Her plot of land was a little flatter than some of her neighbors, so gravity allowed her to grow perpendicular to the ground instead of with a tilt. Big Betty must have had some early trauma because her lower trunk was bent near the ground. Her poor alignment caused her to pitch forward to compensate for growing up on a steep slope. One could argue that falling over in the living room wasn’t her fault. Pitching forward works on a mountainside, but not in my living room. She was a misunderstood product of her environment.

Don’t get me wrong about Big Betty. I loved that gal. We went through a lot together. She was hard to love in the beginning, but she grew on me. I learned to appreciate her pushy, obnoxious attitude, and her defiant disposition. She made no apologies for her size or for how much space she occupied. I think that’s admirable in our society that tells us the thigh gap and ab crack are considered goals.

But this Eliza Jane’s rocking the modesty angle. There’s no vainglorious, self righteous attitude demanding attention. Her branches accept the ornaments and lights and she lets them shine. Paul calls her dainty. I still think she’s suitable and appropriate in the most perfect way.

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