The Perfect One

With sweat dripping down my neck, I pace back and forth trying to decide on my favorite. Too tall. Too round. To me this is a very difficult task. And really, I make it so much harder than it has to be. I run through the bumpy isles, dodging large rocks and translucent patches of ice, after seeing a potential candidate in the distance. Panting in the bitter cold I can see my breath as if it is a giant cloud of white smoke surrounding my entire head. “This is the one,” I say to myself. It’s tall, but not too tall, full, but not too round, and the needles are just the right length and color. I take off one of my mittens and place it on a branch, fitting it snuggly on it as if it’s a hand. I take off my scarf, too, and throw it as high as I can on the candidate in an attempt to mark my territory.

I anxiously run and find the rest of my family, unable to hide my joy, to tell them that I have found it. I yell, “Mom! Dad!” and get several confused looks as well as the expected, “What sweetie?” from another mom or dad who is embarrassingly mistaken. Ignoring them, I run about the maze of spruces, white pines, and Douglas firs to find my annoyed sisters marking their territories, and my bored parents uncomfortably sitting on utterly low rocks with their boots half-buried in the snow, patiently waiting for us to come to a mutual consensus. What an impossible thought.

I’ve always thought that I have the eye for the perfect Christmas tree, and each year I am somehow convinced that this year will be different and that my candidate will win. I find everyone and ramble how I have found the tree, and no need for deciding, we can go home with the tree right then and there. Unfortunately, being the youngest and having the least valued opinion in the family, I am unjustly overruled each year.

However, at this moment each year, I manage to forget about my disappointment because I get a sudden rush of comfort knowing what’s to come. There is nothing I look forward to more at this moment than returning to my toasty warm home, lugging the tree into the house with my dad, with one of my sisters making hot chocolate, and my mom panicking at us to “Be careful, be careful!” as we slowly pass by her wall of antique clocks and the close to a hundred picture frames. After we finally set up the handsome tree, we sit for a moment with our old chipped Santa and Frosty mugs, inhaling he combination of the fresh smell of pine, the aroma of steaming hot chocolate, mixed with the comforting usual smell of my home, sharing memories of the years past. Listening to Mitch Miller on cassette, to “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Must Be Santa,” we unpack the literally endless decorations. When we dress the tree, the most special Christmas ornaments are each of our “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments, with a picture of us as an infant with red chubby cheeks, mine being the biggest of course.

Despite finally falling asleep at the wee hours of the morning due to not starting my homework until nearly midnight, I fall asleep with a smile on my face, knowing that when I run out of my room in the morning in a crazed rush, I will be slowed down by the sight of the glistening Christmas tree that my family put together, together.





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