a blog about parenting, home daycare, adoption and life in general.

Backwards Angel


I’ve always wanted to have one of those perfect Christmas trees like you see in magazine layouts, or on Martha Stewart Live, or in the homes of those amazingly gracious, talented and hospitable women that went to our church when we were kids.

It’s always been a symbol of a good housewife to me — someone who has the organizational skills to collect and store all of those colour-coordinated ornaments year after year, who has the eye to display it all beautifully, who has the parenting skills to keep little hands from rearranging, and who has the housekeeping abilities to keep the never-ending cascade of pine needles from ever actually showing.

Growing up, our tree was never like that.  We would trudge out to one of the mostly abandoned railroad tracks outside of Cannington, and search for the perfect tree top.  Yes, the top — because if it’s got enough branches to be a good Christmas tree, it’s been around long enough to be too big to fit in most people’s living rooms.  Once we found the perfect one, one of my brothers would climb it and cut off the top 6 or 7 feet.  After dragging it up onto the tracks and then loading it onto the car, we would head home for an afternoon of tree decorating, accompanied by hot chocolate and Christmas carols.

With our hodgepodge of ancient handmade glass balls, school-made cut-and-paste ornaments, and tinsel, our tree was anything but coordinated.  And to make matters worse, trees that grow wild alongside the railroad tracks are never … how shall I put it?  Well, they’re never symmetrical, they’re never bushy, they’re always lopsided, and the bottom branches are always way too long.  In short, they aren’t the kind of tree you’d choose to be the subject of a magazine layout.

I couldn’t stand it.  The decorations were placed with no forethought, and everything was just a mass of Christmas colours and fallen needles.  It was so … disorganized.  Everyone else in my family loved it, and I could never understand why.

I’ve spent the last 15 years as a wife, and for 14 of those years, I’ve tried very, VERY hard to keep my Christmas tree looking as nice as possible.  There were the silver and blue years and the red and gold years, when every ornament was carefully chosen to maintain the colour scheme.  And we’ve only had a real tree one or two of those years.  It had to be artificial (albeit cheap), because that’s the only real way I could control the bushiness and the symmetry of my tree.  But this year, we opted for a real live tree.  Dropping needles and all.

Throwing everything to the wind, the kids decorated it.  Although I WAS pretty strict about the fact that the lights had to go on first, then the ribbon, and THEN the ornaments.  But after that, they had complete control.

And it shows.

So today as I was sitting beside a drowsy toddler as she drifted off mesmerized by the twinkling lights on our Christmas tree, I found myself wondering how it came to look so good.  With a string of lights that twinkles while another stays on continually, a crepe paper wreath hanging on one branch, and a series of broken branches on one side (which may have fallen victim to an unsteady child), really, our tree looks amazing!  It may be because it’s a real pine, it may be because of the sugar cookie buzz that’s lingering from our baking spree this morning, but whatever it is, it looks BEAUTIFUL!

And so I start to think that maybe I had a hand in making it look so wonderful, so colourful, and so Christmasy.  That is, until my eyes wander to the top of the tree.

At the top of the tree sits a porecelin angel, who came all the way home with us from Calgary.  With her flowing gown and golden wings, she looks positively majestic sitting atop our little tree.  Well, she did yesterday, anyway.

Today she sits backwards.  Huh.



I mentally calculate logistics and the physics of climbing up on the couch, or of leaning over the railing to move the angel, assuming a 4.5 foot stature of the potential perpetrator, but I come up with nothing.  How did our angel come to have her back to the room?  Could those broken branches have something to do with it?

However it happened, I think I’ll leave her that way, at least for a little while.  Because our Christmas tree isn’t perfect.  The year it is perfect, is the year that we no longer have little ones around to rearrange ornaments, to lick sugar cookie icing from the whisk, or to wake up 3 hours before dawn on Christmas morning to sneak back to bed with a mysteriously full stocking.

That year will come soon enough, but I’m glad it’s not here yet.  Until then, I’m happy with my imperfect Christmas tree and my backwards angels.

Article written by:

Megan is a WAHM to 3 (and then some) kids, who spends the majority of her time working as an Administrative Assistant, blogging and washing dishes. She loves to write about her adventures in parenting, running a home daycare, adoption and whatever else strikes her fancy!


  1. Jean

    I can relate to the child waking up three hours before the sun shows it’s face. Last week I woke up at 3 am trying to figure out what I was hearing. It turns out that our younger son was up and playing Lego in his room because ‘he couldn’t sleep’. I think he’s just a tad excited about Christmas morning. 🙂

  2. Masshole Mommy

    I actually wrote a blog post a few years ago about how I wanted a perfect tree like you see in a Pottery Barn, but I ended up with just the opposite LOL. My tree is lopsided and the ornaments are a mix of ones that my kids made and ones that have been handed down or purchased on vacation.

  3. Liz Mays

    I totally agree about the imperfections children bring to the holiday. Celebrate them while you can!

  4. Kungphoo

    To be 100% honest.. i do not pay attention to the tree, i let the kids do it all.. They wake up in the morning, but the presents are already opened on the eve..

  5. Sojourner Walker (@sojossojourns)

    Oh, I love decorating and would so love a perfect tree, but with a three year old, a five month old and a cat, I have to just accept that my tree looks and will look absolutely crazy. We can only decorate the top half because the toddler and the cat are ornament and light eaters. Last year, my cat actually climbed to the top of the tree. It was a miracle that it didn’t fall over. At least I have the tree at Rockefeller center to look at.

  6. Carly Anderson (@lipglosscrayons)

    Aww, I love how you are keeping it backwards. I think I’ll keep our ornaments where our daughter kept them, too.

  7. mrenkema79

    Aw, love it – backwards angel and all! I will never have a perfect tree either, and I love it!

  8. mykidsguide

    It looks so beautiful, I have an angel pretty similar to that one on my tree!

  9. Rosey

    I think it’s wonderful that you let the kids decorate the tree. We let ours help, the lower end is non-breakable ornaments and the little one is in charge of hanging those. 🙂

  10. Yona Williams

    Ooo – I love the photo of the angel and the colorful lights. I am too much of a Christmas tree dictator to even let anyone else mess with the tree. I don’t have any children, but when my sweetie put blue candy canes on the tree last year, I almost had a heart attack. It just didn’t go with the rest of the tree.

  11. Eliz Frank

    I love your porcelain angel. Maybe she turned her back so she can surprise you on Christmas morning… Beautiful.

  12. rocky

    It’s still beautiful eventhough its backwards … thanks for sharing

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