The perfectly imperfect Christmas tree

By Melanie Yingst - Contributing columnist

I don’t know about your family, but in the Yingst household, we take our Christmas tree selection very seriously.

Since I was little, picking out the Christmas tree was my and my sister’s holiday task with our dad. And when I say “holiday task,” it was more like a mission.

You see, I envy those who really get all decked out for the holidays with the garland, Christmas villages, the wreaths and grand holiday light displays. I wish I could be more like that, but I’m just not. I throw a holiday tea towel on the stove handle and the holiday decorating is done. I marvel at all of you who really go all out.

In spite of my lack of holiday season decor, my annual Christmas tree is front and center of my holiday spirit. Since I moved to the country, my dad has bought me a Christmas tree every year. It’s my favorite gift. It truly is special to me because there was a span of years I didn’t have a real tree of my own. It’s definitely one of my favorite things about Christmas.

Now the Christmas tree selection mission has been passed down to my 14-year-old son, Evan. Each year they take off in the truck to find my and my mom’s perfect Christmas tree. This year, Evan and my dad had a bet to see whose Christmas tree was the better of the pair.

We’ve had some awesome Christmas trees over the years and then the not-so-grand. It’s my hope that I don’t come off Grinchy in this confession, but this year’s tree is in the latter category and I couldn’t hide my disappointment as they carried it through the front door.

I playfully tried to pass it off as “Grandpa” purposely sabotaged our tree so theirs would triumph over the holidays this year. He fired back that he’d be glad to grab last year’s tree from the barn yard instead. Honestly, there was a moment I thought that would not have been the worst idea.

You see, the top of the tree had broken off. Like … gone. This was a first. We’ve had trees doused in used tractor oil before, ones that lean, ones with holes that were maneuvered to the back, but we had never had one missing its top.

My dad asked if I had a Christmas tree topper and I sadly replied, “No.” I had always put my Christmas moose an aunt made me at the top of my tree in lieu of a topper. She made the palm-sized ornament out of my late Grandpa Yingst’s sports jacket and he always went to the top of the tree. It’s one of my favorite ornaments.

So, in true farmer fashion, my dad rummaged through his pickup truck and found a zip tie. Evan then zip-tied the top back on the tree. My Grinchy-ness melted away. My Christmas tree was saved!

On a rainy afternoon, I dug up all the boxes of ornaments that have been packed away for the year. I love Christmas ornaments, especially the ones Evan made in elementary school. They are like little pieces of time. In fact, my mom still has my and Megan’s first grade ornaments made out of pictures and canning jar lids. Why did she let me perm my hair in first grade? I love the school kid ornaments. Thank you to all the teachers for the best gifts!

This year, while I was digging through the boxes, I found a box of Christmas ornaments my late grandmother had given me. A few years prior to her passing, she would produce boxes of knick-knacks to send home with me. This box had an assortment of Christmas ornaments, including one ornament which had “Made In West Germany” imprinted on it. Evan and I had an interesting history lesson with that one.

Digging deeper in the box, I found I had completely forgotten she had gifted me a shiny red (now called “vintage”) Christmas tree topper.

And so, Evan, no longer needing me to lift him up, finagled Norma Jean’s tree topper to the zip-tied branch with my Grandfather’s Christmas moose guarding the top. It’s like they are together again.

My family’s Christmas tree is perfectly imperfect and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Merry Christmas to all of you!

By Melanie Yingst

Contributing columnist

Melanie Yingst is a reporter for the Troy Daily News/Miami Valley Today.

Melanie Yingst is a reporter for the Troy Daily News/Miami Valley Today.