The tree is essentially the centerpiece of Christmas. It is a common symbol of joy and mass consumerism. So obviously it's going to be a big deal. It's a huge deal for my entire family, especially my sister.
It's not like we can just settle for an artificial tree. It would sure be a lot easier, of course, and save us the hassle of having to trek out tree-hunting for the whole year. Oh no. No, it's not the same. So tree-hunting we go.
It definitely is a unique family ritual. Sure, millions of other families do it, but we make it our own. We have to find the _special_ tree.
It's mostly my dad and my sister who are the tree nuts. Mostly, they're the ones to fight over which tree to get. My mom and I just go along with what they say and try not to roll our eyes. We're supposed to take turns picking out trees every year, but it's usually my dad who gets the final say.
"I want that tree!" my sister says.
"Too tall," my dad says. Or scrawny or whatever. He always finds some excuse for a tree he doesn't want.
This year, the tree really was tall, scrawny and ugly. Not to mention, it was laying on its side, so some of them jutted out at odd angles.
"How about this tree?" my mom suggests. The tree she likes is usually short, fat and cute.
"I like it," my dad says.
"Come on, that's pathetic," my sister says. "It's the tree version of Tori."
"Shut up," I say. "It's a cute tree."
This time, my sister fought so much for the tall, scrawny tree that she won, but she usually doesn't.
That battle out of the way, we had another battle to fight: putting the ornaments on the tree. I'm sure that this sounds like a relatively simple task, but that's not so with my sister around.
My parents were too lazy to do it, so they left it up to the two of us.
My sister and I can never agree on how to decorate the tree. She wants only the lighter ornaments on the tree and she clumps them all in one spot. I want them to be more spread out and I also want a bit more of variety. So, naturally, we fight, with her asking me how i'll ever be able to do anything in life. This time, I almost knocked the ladder onto the glass table, which gave her more of an opportunity to drive in the fact that I am a clumsy buffoon.
I was the one who stuck it out until the end, insisting on using all the ornaments. My sister gave up, so it was my father who finally stopped me.
"If you put any more on, the damn tree will fall over," he said.
But it was missing something. I realized later that something was tinsel.
"That is a sad-looking tree," she said.
And... that's my family's tree ritual. Nobody's perfect.
Written December 18, 2013