"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
December 19, 2012
The Jorgensen Family Christmas Tree
by Emily S. Jorgensen

It seems that every Sunday when I am carrying around my baby at church someone in their 60s or better tells me to “appreciate these years—they go by so fast.”

I don’t know, maybe I look unappreciative. Maybe they say that to all the mothers of young children.

At any rate, I smile and nod and say what a bundle of joy she is and yes I think she’s cute too.

But, inwardly, I am casting a withering glare and thinking, “do you know how many YEARS it has been since I slept through a night?!?!?”

And, since it is the holiday season, I might also add, “Yeah, and I bet you have a pretty tree, too. Humph.”

I remember the first time I realized what a Christmas tree could really be.

I visited my Laurel Advisor’s house during the holiday season once in high school. She had a degree in interior design. Her Christmas tree was something right out of Martha Stewart Living.

There were bows, and ribbons, and all the lights were a perfect, twinkling white. The ornaments were all complementary colors. They were placed in perfectly spaced intervals.

It was extraordinary. I decided then and there the Christmas tree of my future would look like this.


Allow me to share with you the recipe for the Christmas tree of my reality:

First, buy an obviously artificial tree at a factory seconds store when you are in your poor student years. Intend to replace it each year, but put off the purchase until some financial emergency or another uses up the budget for it. This way you can ensure yet another year’s enjoyment out of your green bundle of fibrous plastic.

Next, be sure to purchase the rainbow-colored lights. Especially the ones that can blink if your husband surreptitiously replaces one of the bulbs with the specially-included blinky bulb. But, don’t let each strand blink, oh, no. Be especially careful that the various strands don’t blink at the same time.

Break down and buy the gaudy iridescent silver garlands that are thicker than your arm, with little sparkly snowflakes sproinging out of them every which way, because your daughters would just love them. Be sure to buy enough to wrap around the tree enough times that a casual observer will see more silver than green when sizing up your tree.

Now for the ornaments: provide your children with the means to hand-make ornaments each year out of pipe cleaners, pieces of foam, construction paper and glitter. Oh, and don’t forget the reindeer made from clothespins or the manger made from popsicle sticks!

Intend to throw each year’s paper ornaments out when you put away the tree, but cave when your six year old gives you that stricken look when you make the suggestion.

After a few years of holiday children’s art has accumulated in the ornament storage box, suggest that we need not put all the ornaments on the tree this year. Be completely unprepared to offer a good reason to the inevitable, “But…but….why not, mommy?”

Sigh, but say nothing, as your four year old places all the ornaments he can get his hands on across only a 5% surface area of the tree. It’s OK if that branch dips down to the floor under the weight of 27 ornaments, right?

Try not to notice that the beautiful spun glass angels you were given your first Christmas after you were married are scattered around the tree next to such things as a torn paper dove, a white pipe-cleaner-and-red construction-paper candy cane, and a Toy Story figurine hung by a ribbon tied under its arm.

If it is a year when one of your children is a toddler, be sure to place the whole kit and caboodle—tree, presents, etc. inside a porta-crib so as to keep said toddler out. Patiently explain why your tree is in a baby bed to every home and visiting teacher that looks at it askance upon visiting you.

Last, but not least, place the two precious plaster of Paris ornaments you made with your mom when you were a kid near the top of the tree. They are entirely too precious to let anything happen to them. After all, childhood joy is what a Christmas tree is all about.

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About Emily S. Jorgensen

Emily Jorgensen received her bachelor's degree in piano performance from Brigham Young University. She earned her master's degree in elementary music education, also at BYU. She holds a Kodaly certificate in choral education, as well as permanent certification in piano from Music Teacher’s National Association.

She has taught piano, solfege, and children’s music classes for 17 years in her own studio. She has also taught group piano classes at BYU.

She is an active adjudicator throughout the Wasatch Front and has served in local, regional, and state positions Utah Music Teachers' Association, as well as the Inspirations arts contest chair at Freedom Academy.

She gets a lot of her inspiration for her column by parenting her own rambunctious four children, aged from “in diapers” to “into Harry Potter.” She is still married to her high school sweetheart and serves in her ward’s Primary.

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