a perfectly imperfect Christmas tree

Hi there.


Nice to see you again.


You know, no one’s perfect. As a recovering perfectionist who’s always trying to be her “best self,” which, yes, can be as exhausting as it sounds, I’m reminded of this on a daily basis. I was especially reminded of it on a very special night last week: Christmas Tree night.


There we were, in Whole Foods on a Wednesday night, looking at their selection of three rather sad-looking trees, and there I stood, trying to convince myself that they were perfectly imperfect little Charlie Brown trees and not just pathetic excuses for winter firs.


It was our third stop of the evening. The first stop, a local bodega that came through for us last year, had $30 trees that were simply unacceptable this time around. Oddly shaped with bare spots and flat sides galore, branches far too flimsy to hold ornaments...Absolutely not. The second place had the most perfect little trees that ranged from $60-$80. Screw that.


I had plans the following night, it was already December 4th, we were leaving on the 21st, and WE WERE RUNNING OUT OF TIME!!!!


Okay, we had time. But it didn’t feel like that. I had already entered the Land of Must, as in we Must do this tonight, or all is lost.


I keep assuming that I’ll outgrow this absurdly dramatic idealism, but it has yet to happen. I also keep assuming that I’ll wake up one day and never again allow sudden, irrational impatience to blind me like pepper spray. However, like the anxiety that entered my life in a more obvious way over the past few years, I’ve accepted the need for ongoing self-management of this trait. It’s a journey, and it feels nearly impossible in some moments.


No one’s perfect.


So, there we were, in Whole Foods, and there I was: tired and hangry, not wanting to traipse anywhere else, and determined to find a tree whilst self-managing. Dennis deferred to me, which I appreciated, but which also felt like a lot of pressure. I didn’t want a subpar tree to be a daily reminder of my petulance.


Luckily, one of the trees looked better than the others. Though it was sparse toward the top, I convinced the both of us that we could fill it with larger ornaments. You know, give them space to hang properly, as they were meant to do.


We paid for the tree, and praise be that Dennis is Dennis. He reminded me of the true spirit of Christmas, which our little Charlie Brown tree embodied with gusto. By the time we got home, the spirit filled us both, and all was well with the world.


Isn’t it lovely when all feels well with the world?


Sometimes it’s a general feeling you get when you’re with loved ones, or when you’re eating a delicious meal, or when something small sparks joy. Those are the moments when pesky grays fade away and feel not nearly as important as they did before.

Then there are moments that burst forth through those pesky grays like blinding rays of heavenly light. These are the moments that stun you – that feel larger than life – and they’re beautiful to behold.


One such moment happened this weekend. Two months ago, Dennis entered an entrepreneurial competition at his MBA alma mater, Fordham. On Saturday, he was one of eight finalists to pitch in front of six investor judges. He pitched for his business baby, Swellby, and he blew them away. He closed that deal like it was just another day.


But it wasn’t just another day. Though the judges said it was “an easy decision,” and though multiple people congratulated Dennis after his pitch, the look on his face when they announced the winner – the recipient of $35,000 – could only be described as an out-of-body experience. After three years of boot-strapped hard work, persistence, about a million “No, not interested” responses, and relentless commitment to a vision, he was receiving the recognition he deserved, and he couldn’t believe it.


I could believe it. My husband is a baller.


As I watched him holding that ridiculously ginormous foam “check” through my blurry haze of pride-filled sobbing, I thought about the many stresses large and small that we muddled through over the past year. I thought about how neither of us was quite where we wanted to be at this point. When you’re dreamers who reach for the moon and know that you’re capable of reaching it, falling a bit short can feel discouraging. However, I also thought about all our wins along the way. And we had many.


Later that night, as we sat admiring our funny little fir, he said, “I love imperfect trees. They remind me of...me.”


See? We were meant to have that tree. It was there to remind us that we’re imperfect, that life is imperfect, and that we are the ones who get to decide whether or not we’re going to embrace our imperfect selves and embrace this beautifully imperfect life with the choices we make.


I looked at Dennis, I looked at our tree, and I said, “Me, too. I’m glad we chose that tree.”


Even if it was, in part, because I was impatient.


No one’s perfect.

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