Big Daddy Jeff took the little ones to buy our first Christmas tree this year. (Lest you criticize us for using live trees, know that we recycle our Christmas trees ourselves.) Had Jeff gone by himself, I am sure that he would have returned with the perfect tree. Alas, he learned the lesson that I have learned (again, and again) that it is almost impossible to make a good choice when being torn in two different directions by little girls who know more about everything than he does.
So they came home with a tree that must have been cut in July. (I forgive Jeff, but shame on the people who sold it to him.)
About a third of the needles fell off as we were pulling it into the house. It was crooked and bare when we finally got it upright in the stand. We just couldn’t make it look good.
So we told the little girls that we were going to get rid of it and buy another tree. They screamed and cried and begged us not to. They had waited so long for this one … there was no way they were going to let us take it back.
So Jeff and I gave it four whole days, and then we decided to take action. We don’t mind the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree look, but this tree’s needles were dry and hard; not only were they a fire hazard in a house partially heated by wood, but it was only a matter of time before they poked someone’s eye out.
We hatched a plan and Jeff took the day off work. We went tree hunting and found the perfect one, for less than we had spent on the original. We got it home with 18 minutes to spare before having to leave to pick the little ones up from school.We took the decorations off the old tree and then we (meaning Jeff) took the old tree and hid it at the very back of the brush pile. I cleaned up the mess of old needles. We dragged the new tree in, shoved it in the stand, threw the light strands up and the decorations that had been on the old tree and tore off to school.
On the way, we rehearsed a story about magic fertilizer from the North Pole that transformed our old tree into something new and beautiful. We were sure that the little girls would buy it.
The girls were home for more than an hour. In spite of sitting in the same room as our new tree, they were blind to it, until finally, with only me and Miss Sunshine in the room, my daughter took a second and then a third look and gasped.
“Mom! What happened to our tree!”
I put on my shocked look and said “Oh, my! What happened? It must be magic!”
Miss Sunshine was quiet for moment. “No Mommy”, she said. “It’s a Christmas miracle. The Virgin Mary must have come today.”
And my daughter, who complains all the way to school every Thursday morning because that is the day her entire class attends Mass and she just can’t bear it any more, and even drags her feet when heading for ‘fun church’ on Sundays, dropped to her knees, clasped her hands and said:
“Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Then she rose and sat on the couch with me. All thoughts of the North Pole and magic elf dust went out the window, and I sat holding my daughter, basking in the glow of her happy belief that she was worthy of such a blessing: that Christmas miracles really do happen.
Who am I to ruin that?