By Tricia Y. Petrinovich
Nothing is worse than a backstabbing tree. Then again, you did take an axe to it, drag it a mile through snowy woods, bury it under twenty pounds of ornaments, and transform it into a play thing for your cat. So maybe you deserve the brunt of its gossip.
Either way, it’s best you know that it is talking, and when a tree talks, people listen. It might be whispering terms of endearment (it has a tendency to get sappy), or it might be asking you to please turn some ornaments around as it is tired of only seeing Santa’s butt.
Now, I don’t claim to be an arborist or even a tree psychologist, but I play one on T.V. So this is where we get into my make believe world of Treecology and discover the ways your tree reveals your personality. (And what it all means about your feelings toward your mother.)
In my world, your tree branches into one of three categories:
Miss Perfect. Your tree doesn’t whisper this, it screams it from every bough. And you know who you are. By Labor Day, you had already been on thirty-eight different Pinterest boards to glean ideas for how to construct nubby burlap star ornaments and paper lantern light strands. You visited twelve lots and three farms to procure the perfect tree with nary a needle gone astray. And you think its tacky when your sister hangs that 1996 Christopher Radko “Carnival Star” near any of her Inge-glas ornaments. (How gauche.) You probably even have more than one tree, because you couldn’t decide between a tartan or Chevron theme. Your tree says your life is a bastion of control (the “-freak” ending is optional).
Miss Function. Your tree isn’t a decoration, it’s a duty. And yes, it told us that you only put enough lights and ornaments on it to appease the children. Of course, you grabbed the first one you saw on the lot, never mind that it listed to the right, had a Grand Canyon-sized hole on the left, and was passed over by every human and most of the squirrels who saw it. The point is, you got it, and thus checked it off the list. To save time, you might have shoved the tree in a corner and only decorated the parts that show. Your tree says you are a master of efficiency, and that you really just wanted to hurry up and get it done with so you could go back to watching back seasons of The Walking Dead on Netflix.
Miss Match. And by “Miss Match,” I mean mismatch. You have ornaments made out of styrofoam, popsicle sticks and tin foil. And those are the good ones. The pom pom space ship your daughter made in the 1st grade sits next to an antique Old World ornament given to you by a friend. You let your grade schoolers help decorate, which means the ornament placement resembles a T-Mobile coverage map, clustered over here, sparse over there. Your tree says you are a free spirit. (As do your Facebook posts announcing that right after Christmas, you’re either going to backpack through Saskatchewan or raise Sherpa llamas. Unless you don’t.)
Now, before you unplug your tree and turn it into firewood for narking, consider the fact that none of what it said about you is bad. After all, you are your own ornamental amalgamation of traits, all of them beautiful in your own way, as is every tree. So the refined masterpiece is no better than the disheveled bush, as long as they are being as true to themselves as their owners. And if you still can’t square with being dished on by your deciduous, ask yourself this: If your tree gossips about you in the woods and no one is around to hear it, did it really tattle?