Did you hear the hullabaloo over the city of Reno Nevada’s crooked Christmas tree? The story was covered the other night on our local news and as I viewed the forty-six foot beautifully decorated yet crooked Christmas tree it brought back so many memories of my wanting Christmas to be perfect, my tree to be perfect…which all translated into: the burning desire for me to be perfect.
Christmas used to be such a HUGE event for me and rushing out to select a flawless tree the day after Thanksgiving was an annual tradition. I would spend hours making the poor guy, who wished he never uttered the words, “let me help you,” open up and hold dozens of Norfolk pines as I circled around each one, meticulously studying them as if they were cells under a microscope. My tree had to be beyond comparison in height, width, circumference, and fullness, and I would not settle for less!
Upon getting my masterpiece home, I would dedicate a minimum of six hours of painstaking and loving reverence in honoring my new guest in its new refuge. In preparation for its’ adornment, the proper ambience was created with my vast array of melodious Christmas music filling the air. I especially delighted in my Hawaiian Christmas songs and if you were sprig of mistletoe hanging in my living room doorway you would spy me singing and dancing to each song. I particularly love the Brothers Cazimero’s tune “Me and My Teddy Bear.” It is such a delightful, childlike melody and it takes me back to my innocent and devoted days of play with my extended family of furry hibernators. How could anyone resist the urge to twirl around to the words, “Me and my teddy bear, have no worries have no cares. Me and my teddy bear we play and play all day.”
In between my dancing and twirling to each song, I’d arrange and organize the many dozens of ornaments that I have collected over the decades (ones that I have preciously hand-carried home from my travels, ones my mother hand-made out of yarn and ones that friends have gifted me) and fondly reminisce over the memories that each ornament represented.
Fifteen years ago during the height of my obsessive pursuit for the unsurpassable tree, my father read an article in the paper that Kula Botanical on Maui was growing Christmas trees and flying them to O‘ahu via Hawaiian Airlines. Envisioning a fresh tree with a crisp scent and branches and needles that would actually last for a month, as well as thinking about the time that would be saved by not having to vacuum up pine needles everyday, sold both my dad and me and we placed our orders. The day the trees were flown in, my dad collected them in his pickup truck and delivered mine around 7:00 pm. I had been waiting anxiously all afternoon, dreaming about its perfection. From the very first glance my Christmas tree looked like an abominable snow tree and I abhorred it! It had very long pine needles and looked like an unkempt wanna-be Christmas tree—it was horrid and looked nothing like a traditional Christmas tree, much less my Perfect Christmas Tree!!! I begrudgingly. . . dragged. . . the monstrosity upstairs and plunked it into its tree stand. Hoping it would grow on me I left to go to work (I danced hula at the Kahala Hotel).
That entire night at work, I kept telling myself that the tree would have to do and how could I get rid of it even if I wanted to? I planned on decorating it when I got home, but by 10:30 pm that evening, one look at the mutant shaggy thing filled me with disgust. Terribly disheartened, I went to bed. Tossing and turning I could not stop thinking about the ugly duckling tree only ten yards away in my living room and finally at 1:00 am, I could no longer take it. Jumping out of bed, I yanked the tree out of the stand, wrapped it up in a sheet, dragged it downstairs and shoved it into my compact car. I was beserk! I had no idea where I was going as I headed down my hill but there was no way I was going to sleep another minute with that imposter in my house. I briefly considered pulling over at the side of the road and flinging the tree out the window and down the slope but paranoid visions of being handcuffed and carted off to jail in my pajamas came to mind as I thought about the illegality of littering as well as the possibility that our vigilant neighborhood watch patrol might report someone throwing a body wrapped in a sheet out of a vehicle. I decided not to attempt it. As I got to the bottom of the hill—the soccer park came into view—I had a plan. Stealing into the pitch-dark park with a maniacal expression and crazed-filled eyes, I must have looked like the Waialae-Iki Ridge Grinch who stole Christmas. After lugging the eight-foot tree into the bowels of the park I propped the tree up against a larger one in the park and as I was running back to my car, I looked back and shivered because my reject resembled a mummy resting for the night under a tree. I sped back up my hill, jumped into bed and slept like a baby. The next day on my way to buy an “authentically perfect” tree I drove by the park and my guy was gone. I was so happy that I would not suffer from Mother Nature’s wrath over my wastefulness and that someone else was capable of appreciating and enjoying the tree that I was unable to.
Now reflecting back on that memory, my fixation with an immaculate tree was pretty insane but it was simply another example of my obsessive chase after the elusive concept of “perfection.” Growing up with feelings of unworthiness stemming from feelings of abandonment at childbirth, I felt as if I had to prove my worth and overcompensate and overachievement in everything that I did was the result. Just look at the definition of the word perfect: “Being entirely without fault or defect.” Who was I kidding? According to the word’s definition in the dictionary I was never going to achieve perfection in my life. When I think about the agony that seven-letter subjective word has caused me, I want to pull my hair out. It took me over 3 ½ decades to realize that I was running around in circles and beating myself up over my desire to attain perfection and it took another decade to address and transform these detrimental programmed perceptions and beliefs. Today looking back at the Christmas tree craziness, I have definitely come along way by finding ease and peace with myself.
You also will be pleased to know that I have reached a place where I can go to a Christmas tree lot and choose a Grand Fir within twenty minutes! My obsession with the perfect tree has been transmuted and I am much more non-resistant, non-judgmental, non-attached, and accepting regarding the selection of a Christmas tree. These traits also directly reflect my present day life. My desire and control to have the ideal tree and be a perfect me have been exorcised. It took many years of inner reflection, self-work, and repatterning to achieve a life of acceptance, appreciation, gratitude, ease, and grace. If you apply my new personal definition of perfection, than I am perfect: “Being entirely accepting and appreciative of everything and everyone.”
As for the crooked Reno tree, there were many calls phoned into the news stations and the city making fun of the unsymmetrical tree. One reader commented, “It fits with the crooked politicians in the state and country.” According to Reno urban forester Steve Churchillo, “The city saved $2200 by not hiring a private crane operator to put up a larger tree. It’s a healthy, beautiful Sequoia that just had a curve in the lower trunk and once we removed the lower portion, we weren’t able to compensate.”
I think Reno’s tree is a disguised blessing and message from the Universe to remind us to love and accept perceived imperfection. Besides, being level or symmetrical are overrated (and a matter of one’s perception). . . same goes for buxom chests, thin thighs, Ivy League schools, designer clothes, or the ability to put both my legs behind my head. One’s perception of perfection is subjective—it really is so easy to make a shift (once you break through the illusion). I ultimately came to the realization the harder I was on myself, the further the attainment of (the illusion of) perfection became. My self-flagellation kept me from finding my true “perfect” self and now that I am no longer encumbered with that quest I am free to be my gloriously, imperfect, perfect self. Who ever deemed that a tree has to be level to be appreciated and beautiful? Every tree is exquisite in its own right just as we are all individually magnificent. Transforming your beliefs for your highest good can be achieved tomorrow—just intend it as a worthy project of your focus and one day, it will not matter how straight and symmetrical a tree is to appreciate its worthiness or how tall, smart, or thin we are. I think the Universe is imploring us to embrace the Imperfect Perfect in everything, everyone, and especially in ourselves!
This year I shocked myself—for the first time in my entire life, I decided to not get a tree. I am still appreciative of the essence of a tree, playing my favorite Christmas music and dancing and singing in my living room but this year it is in front of a “perfect” wreath I purchased from Costco for $14.99.
To all my PERFECT friends and family – Mele Kalikimaka a Hauoli Makahiki Hou!