This is our Christmas tree.
You’ll notice, it doesn’t have many branches. You’ll also notice it’s a bit too tall, and bends across our ceiling. But it’s our tree. It’s my tree.
Scott said on Twitter that our tree looks like I got mad at someone and hacked off the top of their tree to punish them. And us. In truth, this is the top of a Christmas tree. It’s the top of a tree that until the storm that had been Hurricane Sandy hit Ohio, grew in my parents’ front yard. I have pictures of myself as a kid in front of it when it was just a bit taller than me. When it came down, it was much taller than the house. Throughout the years, birds nested in it and raised their babies. I’m pretty sure a few litters of stray kittens were born in the safety of the hollow space near the trunk. Every year, my mom would decorate it with big colored ornaments and shine a spotlight from the middle of the yard. When it fell, it didn’t crash down, but gently tilted to the side across the front yard as if to say, “I’m sorry. I can’t hold on,” and then let go at an angle that would keep it away from the house. My mom asked if I wanted the top of it for my Christmas tree, and then kept it in a bucket of water until I was ready.
While I decorated it, I couldn’t help but think about the other tree that came down in my parents’ yard in the storm. We’d joked for years about the mammoth oak taking out the house. It was a decade past dead, hollow and Halloweeny. My mom had made an appointment for it to be cut down, but the tree trimmers hadn’t been able to get there yet.
My brother heard the crack.
He’d run through the house, thinking if he could get to my dad in the living room, he’d have a chance to throw himself on top of him and shield them both. That tree should have fallen into the house. It should have killed them both. Instead, it, too, fell at a strangely perfect (and completely different) angle and only clipped the side of the garage.
This year, I’m thankful my family is here to make fun of my tree. It’s not a pretty tree. It’s not a tree anyone would pick out to bring home. It is the tree that reminds me to be grateful for the things I have: a house to put it in, family and friends that love me and whom I love, and another crazy year of life that I’ve been blessed to live as if it were my last. I don’t think there’s anything else I could possibly ask for.