This is our Christmas tree this year, a gorgeous nine foot Fraser fir. We are really proud of it because we met our goal of saving up pocket change and little odds and ends of crumpled dollar bills and coins collected from the floor of the van when we go to sweep it out. The past several years, we've used a little six foot artificial tree, and while it was a cutie, it didn't have the Christmasy magic of this beautiful thing, which has also perfumed the air with that elusive balsam scent. With the recession still going strong, no matter what a bunch of pointy-headed economists might claim about how over it all is, the reality check my husband and I have had to use for the past few years with the girls is: "Do you want a real tree? Or presents? Because we can't afford both."
The girls, of course, chose presents and the little tree did its job well, but we all missed having a great big real tree.
So this is the result of six months of saving, which not only gave us a sense of accomplishment, but also taught the girls, I think, that if you want something really badly, you can set small amounts of money aside here and there and eventually, it will grow into a sizeable sum. We did that last year with The Olive Garden Project and enjoyed an awesome meal on New Year's Eve before we went to Beth and Jim's house. That was so successful, in fact, that we saved up to go to the Olive Garden again this year on New Year's Eve, stashing money away concurrently with the Christmas Tree Fund.
This is all a little bittersweet to me, honestly. I can remember a time not so long ago when we decided to put up the tree and just went to the lot and bought one. I can remember when the Olive Garden and other chain restaurants figured into every single weekend, not just as once-a-year-special events. It makes me sad. I wish it didn't. I wish I were more detached from material things, like St. Francis and St. Clare. But I'm not and I have to admit that seeing this lovely tree shining in the big living room window makes my childish heart feel very, very happy.
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