Three years ago we bought our first Christmas tree. It was our second Christmas in the house but we’d spent our first holiday mid-move in the depths of snow-mageddon. Buying a tree is sort of out of the question when you are knee deep in hardwood floor installations and furniture deliveries. So there we were. Buying our first tree.
Please don’t judge me for owning a fake tree. Ahem. Artificial. It sounds better. Believe me, I’ve judged myself enough for an entire lifetime. But it’s better for the environment. And it came pre-lit. And it just paid for itself this third go-round. I mean, a decent 8 foot Fraser Fur isn’t exactly cheep. Plus, Misha has asthma and is highly allergic to pine. So a plastic Christmas will be had.
We love our giant mass of pre-lit plastic. When she’s set up and glowing in the corner of the living room, everything seems right with the world. Even if just for one month.
So here she is, three years old. There’s a chunk of branches that we hid in the back that just don’t seem to want to light up. And she’s sagging a bit unlike she’s ever done before. But she’s still our tree. And we love her so.
Ok, Alex. Time to get off your new iphone and decorate that tree! (It’s called Falldown, and it’s a silly little game where you let a metal ball drop down a wooden maze, and he’s obsessed).
(ps not too shabby for amateur hour, manual mode, no flash, Christmas tree photography, huh? This girl’s starting to get the hang of it… s-t-a-r-t-i-n-g….)
We own a cookie cut townhouse that resembles pretty much any and all construction completed in the late 1960’s/ early 1970’s. It’s previous owners added features such as crown and chair molding and updated appliances. We added hardwood floors, fresh paint and a few aesthetics of our own. But, behind the Duration Sherwin Williams paint, Arhaus arts & crafts furniture and generations of family pictures, it’s really no more than boxed-in room after room.
This is dangerous for a marriage. Walk in the door, and there you are. Couch, ottoman, 47-inch television and 2 furballs ready to snuggle. Every movement in our house begins and ends in our living room. Some days it can be really hard to make it to the back of the house, where our dining room waits patiently for a purpose other than “laundry folding room”.
So our best friends & next door neighbors, Bill and Brie (from Recipe for a Beautiful Life, go visit her and say hello, don’t be shy), gave us this amazing wedding gift last year. Scrabble. Mmhmmm. I said that. By golly do I love my Le Creuset, All Clad, Pottery Barn dinnerware- oh the list goes on and on! But Scrabble is our favorite wedding gift. Here’s why.
Scrabble keeps our marriage fresh. Every Wednesday we have date night. We forbid our exhausted selves from setting foot in that front living room. The computer stays shut down and we let the DVR do the TV watching for the evening. The cats keep the couch warm while we walk the 30 steps to the back of the house. To play Scrabble and have dinner at the table.
I’ll have you know, this is our favorite night of the week. CSNY, Van Morrison, David Gray, Jason Mraz and Jamie Cullum fill the air with their rich melodies and set the mood with their romantic lyrics. We polish off a bottle of our finest red and argue about the wasteful use of the letter “S” on the Scrabble board. Baci plays in the empty game box. Misha sits on my lap. We are a family.
Wednesday nights are invaluable to our marriage. The dining room provides the backdrop for what could really be any lounge or cafe that we’d otherwise drop $100 on dinner and wine for a date night out. This is still a proper date. I keep my jewelry on, freshen up my make-up and surely wear something cute. Alex may loosen his belt, but it stays on, his shirt tucked in. We don’t do the dishes, either. We save them for Thursday morning. The night is just about spending time as us.
I’m no expert in the marriage department. Eleven months in, we’re honestly learning as we go. But one thing I can stand behind is this: look reaalllly hard and you can find the word rut in routine. If you don’t find a time besides the weekend to reconnect, you’ll find you are missing one another’s company. Even if you’re sitting right next to each other on the couch. Scrabble works for us. As does Wednesday night.
Love doesn’t prioritize itself. That’s what being a couple is about- the making it a priority part. After all, we’ve gotta be crazy to spend our lives with someone if we don’t want to put in the effort to make it work. That’s your best friend, right there, after all! So go out there and make it work! Happy date night!
The air is thick with pine from the wreath hanging on the door. The amber light of the tree replaces any need (or desire) for turning on a lamp. Baci and Misha carefully taste test each and every branch they can reach from the ground. Gifts take their place wrapped with ties and bows under the tree. Do not open ‘til Christmas. Nutcrackers stand astute, guarding the television. The DVR is full (keyword: Christmas). Growing from the top of our shelves is a village- complete with a one room schoolhouse, a church and plenty of birch trees. The tiny little lights shine bright down on us. We have a little orphaned tree with a single red ball in our dining room. “I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love,” Charlie Brown whispers to us.