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It was about this time last year that I wrote a blog bemoaning my “Single Girl’s Tree,” a Christmas tree so neat, symmetrical and sterile that it seemed as foreign to my life as, say, diet brownies and slow driving. My friend, Renee, once said “relationships are messy.” If that’s the case (and it is), my tree indicated that I was the epitome of the despondent single woman whose love might be lavished on doilies, plastic carpet runners and a stable of cats–but not on people. It dawned on me a year ago that my tree was NOT an accurate representation of me!
So in a bold and courageous move that surprised even me, I wrote a blog (click here to view it) in which I asked anyone who’d had a part in my life if they’d mind sending me something for the “Messy Tree” I wanted to create. I never in my wildest dreams expected the kind of response I got! The ornaments came from all over the world: United States, Canada, Greece, Slovenia, China, Sweden, Romania… They came from people I know well and from others who I haven’t seen in 30 years. Some were plucked from the sender’s own Christmas collection, some were hand-made and others were new. Every single one of them (and there are over 50!) has found a spot on my new Messy Tree. Ah, the untidy, asymmetrical and thoroughly lived-in beauty of the 6 1/2 foot pine I can now see from the street, four stories below. (PS: There’s still room for more! If you planned on sending something last year, but forgot, I’m at 301 E Liberty Drive, Wheaton, IL 60187!)
I know these pictures may not show the ornament you sent me, but believe me, every one I received is up there somewhere—including the bottle cap from Kristoff and the red-yarn-wrapped plastic spoon from Taelyr. There’s no such thing as a tacky ornament in the Phoenix house! The one that makes me laugh is a small stocking from Grayson, a former student who wrote, “I laughed when I saw it because it is pretty standard…me giving you something that implies it will be filled by you and given back…a saucy thank you and a reminder that I’m a mooch.” At least he recognizes the nature of our relationship, right?
I couldn’t wait—the tree went up a few days before Thanksgiving, in part because three precious former students were in town to help with the festive hanging and draping. The Christmas music was playing, the laughter was ringing, and the post-decorating meal was enveloping my home with the aromas of garlic and rosemary, apple and nutmeg. It was a perfect evening. Erin and I even made a quick trip to Michaels to pick up some crafty supplies for her to make a tree-topper angel unlike anything I’ve seen before. The end result of our partying was something that brought tears to my eyes.
THANK YOU to each of you who participated in transforming my pathetic Single Girl’s Tree into the relationship explosion now dwarfing my living space. Former students, relatives, colleagues, new friends and old… I am so very blessed that my life has been populated by YOU—brightened, purposed, validated, and enriched by the wondrous messiness of relationships.
Every ornament on my tree is another reason to be thankful, and gratitude, as my more faithful readers know, is this single girl’s favorite (and only) sport. On this day after Thanksgiving, I am so, so, so grateful for you…
This ornament is precious to me. Given to me by Deb Colones, in SC, in memory of the evening in July 2008 when I sat on her porch in the dark, in her wicker chair, and she read me scripture after scripture. It was the night I was diagnosed with my second cancer…